A FORMER plasterer has been ordered to pay almost £3,000 after being caught selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco from the boot of his car.

William Thomas Coatsworth, of Crawford Close, in Bishop Auckland, pleaded guilty to a total of 16 charges at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

He faced eight charges of supplying tobacco products not carrying the correct health warning in a container, four charges of selling goods with packaging likely to be mistaken for a registered trademark and a further four charges for possessing goods with a false trademark.

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The court heard how test purchases were carried out at Mr Coatsworth’s home in March and April this year, each time with the 59-year-old going to his car to get the tobacco products from the boot.

Catherine Hazell, prosecuting on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “Officers carrying out the test purchases bought tobacco and cigarettes which were examined and found to be counterfeit.

“A warrant was executed at Mr Coatsworth’s home address in June where a total of 6,640 cigarettes and 19 pouches of tobacco were seized, along with £1,585 of assorted bank notes.”

Mr Coatsworth, a former plasterer who represented himself in court, said he knew what he had done was wrong and that he wouldn’t do it again.

In mitigation, he said: “I got involved eight or nine months ago, I was only selling on a very very small scale. I know what I have done is wrong and it certainly won’t happen again.

“I don’t work, I have not worked since I had an accident in July 2015. I got compensation through last year and that’s what I have lived off ever since.

“I haven’t received anything from the state and that’s all I can say. Everyone makes mistakes in life and I’ve held my hands up to what I’ve done.”

A report from the probation service read out during court stated: “He accepts full responsibility for these offences which he acknowledges were very stupid.

“He maintains that he never intended to make a lot of money, and if he could make enough for a night out then that would do him.

“He said during interview that he would make between £30 and £40 per week, but it was not regular.

“He also insists that the money confiscated was nothing at all to do with the sales of the cigarettes, instead from the sale of a car and a van.”

Magistrate Mark O’Neill said: “This is quite a serious offence, most of the cigarettes were counterfeit and therefore potentially dangerous.”

He fined Mr Coatsworth £1,600 and he was also ordered to pay 1,284.94 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.