A Plymouth man who was caught with a huge amount of illegal tobacco has been ordered to pay back £55,000 under Proceeds of Crime in a case brought by our Trading Standards service.
Michael Lock, of Moorland Drive, Plympton, was caught with 67.5 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco and 39,480 cigarettes when Trading Standards and HMRC officers raided his house and other addresses in March 2017.
Much of the tobacco was destined for foreign markets and failed to display the required health warnings. No duty had been paid and more than 30,000 of the cigarettes were fakes of the ‘Mayfair’ brand.
At a hearing in January this year, Lock pleaded guilty to eight offences relating to the possession of incorrectly labelled, counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco. He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 200 hours’ unpaid work.
Yesterday at Plymouth Crown Court, Judge Paul Darlow ordered Lock to pay back £55,000 in a confiscation hearing brought by the Council under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He also ordered that he must pay the prosecution costs of £17,500.
Councillor Sally Haydon, Cabinet Member for Customer Focus and Community Safety, said: “This is one of the largest seizures of illegal tobacco our Trading Standards team have ever made and without our intervention, this would have found its way on to our streets.
“We are working hard to make Plymouth a healthier city and ensure everyone lives long healthy lives. All tobacco poses a health risk, but as illegal tobacco is sold at pocket money prices, it can be bought by children from unscrupulous sellers who are only interested in making money. Stamping out illegal tobacco helps reduce smoking amongst adults and children, leading to an improvement in people’s health and wellbeing.
“Where possible, we will always use the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure those responsible do not financially benefit from their criminal activities.”