A man was caught selling dodgy TV sets in a supermarket car park when he offered one to an off-duty policeman.
Paul Maughan, 35, was found to have five flat-screen sets in the back of his van with either cracked screens or missing components.
Today, Ipswich Crown Court heard how Maughan, of Keeble Way, Braintree, had asked off-duty officer PC Robert Bunton if he wanted to buy a 32 inch set outside the Asda store in Bury St Edmunds on April 6 last year.
PC Bunton declined and alerted colleagues who arrived to detain Maughan and siezed the five sets in the van which were all swathed in bubble wrap which was also found to contain blocks which gave the impression that each set came complete with a remote control, said Alison Lambert prosecuting.
When interviewed by officers from Suffolk Trading Standards, Maughan said he had purchased the sets from his cousin who had in turn acquired them from an electrical company.
Miss Lambert said that when tested, it was found that none of the five sets was capable of being used.
Maughan told investigators that he had paid a total of £200 for the five TV sets and had hoped to sell them for up to £150 each.
Maughan pleaded guilty to two offences of possession of articles for use in fraud.
The court heard that in December 2011 Maughan had been convicted of an identical offence involving useless TV sets being sold in a supermarket car park.
Defending, Lynne Shirley said Maughan had never unwrapped or tested the sets he was offering for sale in Bury St Edmunds.
Miss Shirley said: “He has given up selling TVs. He doesn’t do that anymore. He has legitimate employment and that is something he wants to continue.
“At the time he was going through a divorce, got in with the wrong crowd and has now seen the error of his ways.”
Sentencing him to four months imprisonment suspended for two years, Mr Recorder Christopher Makey told Maughan: “The real difficulty is that people who are short of money purchase TV from someone like you.
“It dosn’t work, they have no recourse. They are out of pocket. That can lead to a great deal of hardship which I am sure you are well aware.”
Maughan was also placed under Probation Service supervision for 12 months, ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid community work and take part in a “Thinking Skills” programme.
Mr Recorder Makey said that despite the prosecution having cost more than £3,000 to bring, he was not ordering Maughan to make any contribution because he had no means to pay such a bill.