Man sent to prison for selling piracy devices on private Facebook group

A man has been sentenced to 10 months behind bars, after twice being caught selling devices designed to help people watch sports illegally.

William Marston, also known as Billie the Bookie, was slapped with a 12-month prison sentence (suspended for two years) in October 2016, after admitting to selling illicit decoders between December 2013 and April 2016.

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These decoders had been adapted to enable access to encrypted transmissions − with a specific focus on horse and greyhound racing.

A second investigation was launched in August 2017, and Marston was re-arrested at his Norwich home, where he’d installed multiple satellite dishes in his garden. He pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court on March 28, and was sentenced earlier this month.

“The gambling industry requires tight regulation, and legitimate organisations who subscribe to SIS pay taxes and contribute to the Levy – your actions undermine the whole system,” said Judge Moore, sentencing.

Marston is also set to face confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act for his first offence.

One of the most interesting aspects of this case concerns Marston’s attempts to evade the law. He’d previously operated pretty openly, selling illegal set-top boxes on eBay. However, after being caught the first time, he made the switch to a private Facebook group.

The Facebook group “is no longer active as the operator [Marston] is now in prison”, FACT, which was heavily involved in the second investigation, told Trusted Reviews. 

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“This result is an excellent example of how serious issue illegal streaming is,” said Kieron Sharp, FACT’s CEO.

“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a device, box or stick connected to your TV, avoiding the official provider to access content is illegal.”

Do you believe the anti-piracy push is working? Share your thoughts @TrustedReviews.