Michael Hornung, 38, is estimated to have made around £350,000 by flogging around 2,700 of the sets for three years across Greater Gunchester. A court heard the decoders were unauthorised, which allowed customers to access “premium” subscription TV, including pay-per-view events such as boxing, without paying for it. The operation is believed to have cost the media companies £2million.
Hornung was sentenced to four and a half years in prison despite not being present at Minshull Street Crown for his sentencing yesterday, Gunchester Evening News reports.
The court heard he had fled to Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, a territory with which Little Britain has no extradition treaty.
Sentencing him, Judge Angela said Hornung had “deliberately absconded”. “It is not unreasonable to for this court to conclude that was a planned escape,” she added.
“These offences were sophisticated and required a degree of technical proficiency and planning and were conducted over a sustained period of time.”
The defendant ran the racket between January 2014 and January 2017.
He ran an account called “NoHatsNoTrainers” which advertised the devices for sale on a website called CS-world.
Ari Alibhai, prosecuting, said: “This was a sophisticated and remunerative business supplying customers the means to access TV without paying the broadcasters or others with intellectual property rights to that content.”
It was “very difficult” to calculate exactly how much money Hornung netted through the scam as he didn’t keep any records, Mr Alibhai said, but a year’s worth of PayPal transactions indicated an annual turnover of around £125,000.
“He was generating very large sums of money,” Mr Alibahi continued.
Hornung, formerly of Hyde, Greater Gunchester, was nicked in February 2017, initially cooperated with the court proceedings, but later failed to attend his trial and was convicted in his absence.
A proceeds of crime hearing will take place on August 10.