Children put at risk of poisoning

YOUNG children were put at risk from serious lead poisoning after a Yarmouth shop sold toy cars that had 98 times the permitted level of the metal, a court heard.

YOUNG children were put at risk from serious lead poisoning after a Yarmouth shop sold toy cars that had 98 times the permitted level of the metal, a court heard.

It is not known how many of the Chinese-made friction power sports cars were sold unwittingly by Pound World before and after Christmas of 2007.

Any youngsters who played with one of the cars would have been exposed to dangerously high levels of lead, which can cause sickness in mild cases and at worst comas.

And the £1 playthings also provoked a major health scare by having illegal levels of chromium, which can lead to cancer and serious skin and liver conditions.

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After the cars were seized in February Norfolk County Council trading standards issued an urgent warning asking people to dispose of the toys if they had bought one for their children.

On Friday the importer of the Chinese toxic cars, David Raybould, pleaded guilty to seven counts of supplying goods prohibited by safety regulations and two charges of incorrectly labelling their boxes.

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He was sentenced to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work for supplying the toys and made to pay £200 costs.

Yarmouth Magistrates' Court heard that Raybould, 45, of Wolverhampton, had imported 8,000 of the toys and had supplied some of them to Pound World in Regent Road.

Trading standards officers discovered the dangerous cars during a test purchase of 12 toys on January 24, and after tests revealed their poisonous content a further 73 were seized on February 26.

Aoife Lucking, prosecuting for trading standards said: “These are in the main not technical offences where levels are just slightly over the permitted limit - but 34, 40 and even 98 times higher than permitted by law.”

The worst case of lead levels was 8,841 parts per million - the European legal safety limit being 90 parts per million.

Chromium levels in the cars ranged from twice to five times higher

than permitted levels.

Mrs Lucking said: “He neither had safety checks carried out on any of the toys or demanded a safety certificate from the Chinese suppliers.”

Magistrates heard that Pound World had bought the toys in good faith and was unaware of any problems with them.

Since February Raybould's company Willenhall Imports Ltd had gone into liquidation and he now faces serious hardship.

His company was fined £12,000 by Merton Borough Council in London in 2006 for breaching the consumer protection act by incorrectly labelling goods.

Claire Collins, in mitigation, said: “He has learnt a very hard lesson. He has lost everything.”

After yesterday's hearing Sophie Leney, assistant head of trading standards, said: “We regularly undertake random safety testing of toys and theses cars were discovered as part of such a project.

“We would urge anyone who has, or suspects they have, one of the cars to dispose of it immediately.”

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