CRIME proceeds confiscations of just £5,600 have been agreed from four members of a family jailed for doorstep selling of illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

It was despite the potential turnover of their ‘tab house’ sales being estimated at between £936,000 and £1.2m.

Ian Joseph Brace and his wife Julie, both now 53, ran the ‘tab house’, selling cheap, counterfeit cigarettes to callers at their Seaham home, over three years.

Their sentencing hearing at Durham Crown Court in May was told trading standards officers from the county council, acting on a tip-off, carried out six test purchases, in August and September, 2016, buying several different brands of cigarettes.

It was said up to ten customers an hour, and about 120 a day, visited the house.

Some of the purchases were said to have been made from children in school uniform.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said all five counterfeit brands seized failed an ignition test, continuing to burn once lit, unlike legally-bought cigarettes, which self-extinguish when they are not being smoked.

Mr Bennett said this significantly increased the fire risk from unattended cigarettes.

A total of 1,141 packs of cigarettes, with a street value of £4,000, plus 414 packs of 50g rolling tobacco, worth £3,186, were found in a raid on the property.

Cigarettes were stacked on a kitchen work surface,with a float of money and list of prices,.

A notebook, containing ‘product’ lists and cash figures, was found hidden in a cushion.

Mr Bennett said Ian Brace’s brother, David Brace, now 42, who also lived in Everton Drive, was involved, storing rolling tobacco at his home.

The Brace’s sister, Julie Wilkinson, now 50, from Calvert Terrace, Murton, at times ‘stood in’, running the business when the couple were on holiday.

Ian Brace admitted selling or distributing counterfeit goods, and supplying tobacco without either a combined health or a general health warning.

At the May sentencing hearing, he was jailed for two years and four months, while Julie Brace, who admitted the same three charges, and was given a 16-month sentence.

David Brace admitted supplying tobacco without a combined health warning and was given a ten-month sentence.

Wilkinson admitted selling or distributing counterfeit goods and was jailed for eight months.

Following Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) inquiries, the agreed benefit figure for both Ian and Julie Brace was put at £29,041.66.

He was said to have only £1,600 realisable assets, a car and personalised number plate, and was ordered to pay it rom their sale, in three months, or risk a further one-month prison sentence.

Julie Brace, who has no realisable assets, was given a nominal £5 order, with seven days to pay.

Wilkinson, who benefited by £16,083.92, was also said to have no realisable assets, and was also given a nominal £5 order.

David Brace was previously given a £4,000 order, having agreed a benefit figure of £3,800 administratively.