A MAN has been fined more than £500 for selling counterfeit cigarettes.

Durham County Council took enforcement action against James Lennox following an investigation by its trading standards team into the supply of illicit tobacco.

Last July, a warrant of entry was executed at Lennox’s house in Roseberry Crescent, Thornley, where quantities of Richmond and Mayfair cigarettes and Virginia Gold, Robin Hood and Turner hand rolling tobacco were found.

In total, 1,280 counterfeit cigarettes and 3.2kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco were seized by officers.

The Northern Echo:

When interviewed under caution, Lennox said he had purchased the tobacco from a car boot sale with the intention of selling it to visitors to his home for £3.50 for a packet of cigarettes and £9 for a pouch of tobacco.

Lennox, 75, admitted believing the products were illegal and had been smuggled into the country but said he continued anyway out of stupidity, greed and wanting to make some money for betting.

In mitigation, Newton Aycliffe Magistrates heard he had become involved in counterfeit goods when he retired and came into financial difficulties.

Lennox bought the tobacco at the car boot sale in what he thought was an opportunity to make some money.

Lennox pleaded guilty to two offences of possessing counterfeit goods for sale and ten offences relating to the packaging and health warnings. He was fined £552.

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s consumer protection manager, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco has a number of negative impacts on our community. Not only can it be detrimental to retailers, the selling of cheap fake goods makes it easier for children to get hold of cigarettes at pocket money prices.

“The illegal tobacco trade is also linked to criminals and often those who supply it are involved in wider criminality. Buying what you suspect are fake cigarettes only supports crime and is costly on the public purse.

“If you suspect that illegal tobacco is being sold in your area then we encourage you to report it. Information can be given anonymously and any intelligence we receive helps take more illegal tobacco out of circulation.”

Anyone with information about the possible supply of illegal tobacco can contact the confidential reporting line on 0300 999 0000 or visit www.keep-it-out.co.uk