Brothers jailed after selling fake cigarettes under the counter in Pound Shops
Two brothers have been jailed for trying to flog more than 56,000 bootleg fags from city shops.
The case comes as trading standards reveal seizures of counterfeit tobacco are on the increase – after more than 104,000 cigarettes have been found in the county this year.
Paul and Peter Dye were selling fake cigarettes and tobacco – which were claimed to have been bought from a man called Bob at a car boot sale – from beneath the counters at Pound Shops in Netherfield and Stapleford. But a judge told them the cigarettes were “dangerous” because they did not self-extinguish – making them a fire hazard.
Nottingham Crown Court heard the brothers had been jailed previously for importing illegal tobacco. Yesterday’s hearing was told Trading Standards officers seized 56,000 fake fags and 13.8kg of tobacco from Netherfield Pound Shop, in Victoria Road, in April 2014 – as well as £6,160 in cash thought to have been made from the sale of illegal tobacco.
The shop was owned by Paul, 53, and officers found more tobacco at his home in Rhyl Crescent in Gedling.
At the same time the officers visited the home of Peter, 59, in Beaumaris Drive, Gedling, and seized tobacco with no health warning labels and £7,680 in cash hidden at the property. Tobacco was also found behind the till at the Stapleford Pound Shop, in Derby Road, which was managed by Peter and owned by Paul.
Further raids were carried out in January this year – and more fake tobacco found.
The pair admitted three counts of unauthorised use of a trade mark, two counts of possessing dangerous goods for supply and two counts of possessing criminal property. Paul was jailed for two years; and his brother 12 months.
Judge Andrew Hamilton told them: “The serious element of this is not only that you deprived the [Inland] Revenue of income; you also put on the market inferior cigarettes that are dangerous.”
He also said: “You both ran different Pound Shops and it’s clear that you were supplying fake cigarettes and tobacco, and the cigarettes were also dangerous. They were not on open display; no doubt your regular customers knew this was a little bit ‘behind the counter’ that they could ask for and get what they wanted.”
The court heard the duty evaded would have been £18,528.90 for Paul’s sales and £1,656.60 for Peter’s. Typically smokers pay around £10 for a legitimate pack of 20 cigarettes but prosecutor Christopher Geeson said it was not clear how much the brothers had been selling their fake fags for.
James Beck, mitigating for Paul, said the amount of money made from the sale of the fags “in relative terms” was fairly low.
And Nicola Hornby, for Peter, said: “He ran a legitimate business as well. He has got two children, aged 15 and six, and he’s got concerns for how his children and partner would cope if he went to prison.”
Sarah Ridley, team manager of trading standards and community safety, said afterwards: “The volume of illicit tobacco uncovered by trading standards officers has increased – it is a county-wide problem however there are a number of areas with ‘hotspots’ of sellers, including Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield.”
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, committee chairman for community safety at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is a significant result in our continued war against the illegal cigarette trade across the county. Our raids recovered a huge amount of illicit and counterfeit tobacco in a number of locations related to the defendants and we welcome the court outcome today which we hope sends out a deterrent to others.”