A Durham woman has been left with a bill of more than £500 after being caught selling counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.
Amanda Alderson, 44, of Laurel Avenue on the Sherburn Road Estate, appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court following a prosecution by Durham County Council.
The court heard that the council’s trading standards team launched an investigation after receiving intelligence the products were being sold from a home nearby.
In March last year, they carried out a test purchase at the property, during which they were sold counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.
Officers returned to the address later that month with a warrant authorising them to carry out a search.
Alderson co-operated throughout the search, which resulted in the seizure of 268 pouches of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco and 4,040 counterfeit cigarettes with a total value of more than £4,300 on the illicit market.
She also told officers she was wholly responsible for selling the products and that the operation had nothing to do with the householder.
At interview, Alderson said she had no criminal record but confirmed she received deliveries on Tuesdays and Fridays, with Friday being her busiest day.
She said a third party would collect cash from sales and any leftover cigarettes each day and that she had only been involved in the operation for a couple of weeks.
She also said she received no financial benefit and was paid in the form of a sleeve of cigarettes by the third party but refused to provide any details as to their identity.
At court, Alderson pleaded guilty to 18 offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
Magistrates fined her £80 and ordered her to pay £411 in costs as well as a £32 victim surcharge. They also ordered the destruction of the counterfeit products seized.
Gary Carr, strategic regulation manager at Durham County Council, said: “Illegal tobacco is harming communities across County Durham. Not only does it bring crime into our county but these products are far more likely to make it into the hands of children and seriously undermine the work of the stop smoking service.
“This prosecution shows our officers are committed to reducing the harm caused by the illegal tobacco trade, whether sales are being made from shops or residential properties. I would urge members of the public to continue reporting it to us so that we can take the appropriate action.”