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A broke Bedfordshire retailer has been electronically tagged after pleading guilty to modifying 34 Virgin Media set-top boxes.

The court heard that James Howard, 49, of Drove Road, Biggleswade defrauded Virgin Media of up to £50,000 with the unauthorised decoder devices, which he sold from his local shop, Electro Exchange. But Howard had personally made just £2000 in profit.

He was £35,000 in debt and maxed out on four credit cards when he started selling the dodgy decoders.

Defence brief Andy Brumhill said: "Mr Howard is the owner of a small one man outfit and is struggling heavily. He cannot afford to employ anyone at his business and is at the shop premises every day even when it is not open to complete paperwork."

Howard must stay at home between 9pm and 7am for the next three months and has been ordered to pay £2000 in compensation to Virgin Media.

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