A PENSIONER who was caught with over 100,000 illegal cigarettes has been given an eight month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a £35,300 confiscation order.

The sentenced imposed on Francis Farrelly, of The Gardens, Chester-le-Street, suspended for 18 months, was for his involvement in the supply of illegal tobacco.

For three months the 72-year-old will also be electronically tagged and monitored with a curfew from 8pm to 8am.

Durham County Council officers paid a visit to Farrelly on March 7 to conduct a test purchase, where they were given one box of 20 Brass cigarettes for £3.50.

The following month a warrant was executed to search his home address where a total of 62,800 Brass and 43,560 Pride cigarettes, and 104.3kg of Turner tobacco was seized.

Durham Crown Court heard that none of the Brass or Pride cigarettes seized contained the obligatory health warnings on the packets and the health warnings on the tobacco uncovered were not in English.

The search also revealed £7,540 in cash.

Under interview Farrelly confirmed it was from the sale of the cigarettes, admitting that for four to five years he had been exchanging the illegal tobacco products for cash at his door.

The defendant said he was unsure of the law relating to labelling, but he did not believe that the tobacco products were legal due to their dubious origin.

He said that they would be delivered to his home address in a van once a month, but refused to say who from.

In mitigation it was reported that the defendant was in poor health and would not be fit to work if an element of unpaid work was attached to any order.

He pleaded guilty to four charges of supplying tobacco without health warnings, possessing criminal property and converting criminal property.

Owen Cleugh, of Durham County Council, said: “Smoking kills and people need to be aware, that is why it’s important that the correct health warnings, in English, are listed on cigarette and tobacco packets. On top of this, tobacco products such as these harm the interests of legitimate retailers and also affect the public purse.”