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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 17:47 GMT
Free TV football scam conviction
A satellite dish
The cards enabled pubs to pick up football games via satellite
A magician who sold illegal foreign decoder satellite TV cards is the first person to be convicted of the offence in Wales and England, a court heard.

Mark Elsdon, 39, from Llandudno, Conwy, made 5,000 from the cards, which let pubs show football without paying subscriptions, Mold Crown Court heard.

Elsdon, who admitted a total of eight charges, supplied 17 pubs in Conwy, Anglesey, Gwynedd and Denbighshire.

He will be sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court on 11 April.

The court heard how Elsdon - who worked for 15 years as a magician and wrote magic books - sold or offered to sell the illegal decoder cards to pubs so that they could show live Premier League soccer matches.

He admitted four charges of selling and four charges of offering to sell the unauthorised cards.

The case followed an investigation by Conwy Council's trading standards department.

Destruction order

Myles Bennett, prosecuting, said the eight charges of selling or offering to sell the decoder cards - which came from north Africa and Greece - were sample counts, and Elsdon was the first dealer convicted in Wales and England.

John Wyn Williams, defending, said Elsdon believed the cards were legal in the UK.

He said he had been advised by the European Satellite Television Association (ESTA), that they were legal and at the time of the offences in 2006 and 2007 the law was in a state of confusion.

The court heard the cards had been retrieved by trading standards officials from licensees who had been foolish enough to purchase them, and a destruction order would be applied for.

The court heard that such offences had a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

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