A man found guilty of selling unauthorised streaming boxes has fled to Cyprus to avoid justice.

38-year-old Michael Hornung from Tameside, England, was handed a four-and-a-half-year sentence for selling unauthorised decoders, selling articles for use in fraud, and advertising unauthorised decoders for sale.

Hornung reportedly sold around 2,700 TV boxes over the course of 24 months. The operation is estimated to have made around £350,000, which resulted in a loss of around £2 million for providers including Sky, BT and Virgin MediaHornung was found guilty despite not being present at Minshull Street Crown in May. He then failed to make an appearance during his sentencing hearing on Thursday (June 23) and had instead fled to Northern Cyprus, where the UK has no extradition treaty.

Acting on behalf of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (F.A.C.T.), prosecutor Ari Alibhai said: “This was a sophisticated and remunerative business supplying customers the means to access TV without paying the broadcasters or others with intellectual property rights to that content.”

Hornung ran the operation through an account called “NoHatsNoTrainers”, which advertised the discounted devices on a site called CS-world.

During sentencing, the judge said: “These offences were sophisticated and required a degree of technical proficiency and planning and were conducted over a sustained period of time.” The judge said he had “deliberately absconded” and went on to say: “It is not unreasonable to for this court to conclude that was a planned escape.”