A COMPANY director has escaped a trip to prison for selling pirated vehicle repair gadgets on eBay because he stood up to armed thugs who broke into his home and threatened his son.

Lee John Holt, 32, made £35,521 by his transactions on the internet auction site of counterfeit vehicle diagnostic equipment and keyrings bearing vehicle logos, Allan Armbrister, prosecuting, told York Crown Court.

The fake brand names on the sale items included Opel, Audi, BMW, Mini, Ford, Skoda, Volvo, Volkswagen, and Mercedes.

Defence barrister Nicholas de la Poer said two burglars had got in to Holt's home in Clifton, in March 2013. One had hit him with a hammer and when he managed to disarm him, the second intruder had threatened his young son with a screwdriver.

Local residents had intimidated him after he went to the police, but he had still given evidence against the two, who were convicted by a jury and given lengthy sentences.

Holt had had to move out of York as a result. He had also suffered a close family bereavement in 2013, which had been an "appalling year" for him.

Recorder Simon Jackson QC said because of what Holt had endured, he would suspend an eight-month prison sentence for 18 months on condition he did 150 hours unpaid work.

Holt must also hand over the £35,521 he made through his crimes and pay £5,000 prosecution costs to City of York trading standards who brought him to justice after General Motors contacted them about the illegal sales involving fake Opel logos.

Holt, director of Poppleton company UK Chip Tuning Ltd and formerly of Peterhill Drive, Clifton, pleaded guilty to 12 offences of selling pirated goods on the basis that he didn't make sufficient checks that the goods were genuine and one of money laundering. He asked for 3,344 similar trade mark offences to be taken into consideration.

Mr de la Poer said if he went to jail, Holt's 400 client businesses would be unable to use their diagnostic scanners because they were "slaves" to the UK Chip Tuning Ltd scanner, which only Holt could operate.

Raymond Neil Harris, 31, of Fossway, York, is serving 13 years, and Simon Timothy Kay, 23, of Tamworth Road, York, nine years, for aggravated burglary of the Holt family home and other offences.