A STORE owner who sold counterfeit tobacco products for a year has been ordered to pay just £5 in crime proceeds.

Ismail Maulud was jailed for 30 months at Durham Crown Court in July, a year of which was for the sale of the illicit tobacco at Westlea Mini Market, in Seaham.

The court heard his trade in counterfeit cigarettes and rolling tobacco led to him carrying out a knife attack in a doorstep confrontation with an in debt “customer”, in October last year.

He received a consecutive 18-month sentence for the knife incident.

Maulud’s under the counter trade in cheap tobacco products, all counterfeit brands not bearing the Government health warning, came to the attention of trading standards officers at Durham County Council.

As a result test purchase officers from the trading standards department made several visits to the mini market, in 2017, each time buying packets and sleeves of various counterfeit tobacco brands.

On one visit a sleeve of ten packets of 20 cigarettes was bought for just £8.

A search at the store, in December 2017, resulted in the recovery of large quantities of illegal tobacco products, while Maulud’s phone was also seized, revealing messages from customers seeking cheap cigarettes.

Further searches were made at the shop and at his home, in Meadow Avenue, Blackhall Colliery, after the doorstep knife attack and more illicit tobacco products were recovered from a car parked outside.

In total, the two searches led to the recovery of £21,465 worth of cigarettes and rolling tobacco.

Maulud, 41, admitted supplying counterfeit tobacco but denied charges arising from the assault.

He was convicted, however, of assault causing actual bodily harm and making threats with a bladed article, following a trial earlier this year.

The sentencing hearing was told the defendant turned to making the illicit sales was due to poor trading figures at the shop and the bulk of the business was to a small number of regular customers.

Maulud was produced in court from HMP Northumberland for the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, four months after being jailed.

Both Phillip Morley, for the Crown, and Muneeb Akram, for Maulud, agreed the defendant’s benefit from his illegal trade was £22,015, but as he was said to have no assets, Judge James Adkin made a nominal £5 confiscation order.