- Neil Stanley Higgs
of Bristol, who set up his mod-chip operations in 2002, is said to have pocketed turnover in excess of £1 million from his illegal business dealings.
39 year-old Higgs was found guilty of 26 offences: three counts of advertising, supplying and selling modification chips designed to enable people to play illegally copied games on their consoles, 12 counts of possessing 19 chipped games consoles and another 11 counts of possessing Executor modchips for Microsoft consoles, as well as Viper GC chips for Nintendo systems. He was cleared of a further four counts of possessing chipped consoles.
Seized consoles and emails on the computers at Higgs' flat were used as evidence against him in court. Higgs argued that all 19 of the chipped consoles found in his possession were owned by friends and family, but this line of defense was dismissed by Judge Carole Hagen.
Higgs was tracked down by Bristol City Council's Trading Standards after Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) investigators found illegal chips and modification equipment being sold through his website at www.mrmodchips.com and www.mrmodchips.co.uk.
"This case today sets a major precedent which marks a milestone in the fight against piracy, protecting the games industry's investment in fantastic games," said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.
"It sends a clear message to anyone tempted to become involved in 'chipping' consoles that this is a criminal offence and will be dealt in the strongest possible way. The modification of consoles is an activity that ELSPA's anti-piracy team is prioritizing - it is encouraging to see the UK courts do the same."
The jury at his trial voted unamimously against Higgs, whose lawyers requested leave to appeal which was granted by the Judge. A date for the appeal hearing has yet to be set.