Illegal tobacco business stubbed out after raid by Cornwall Council Trading Standards officers

A Redruth man, caught with 1,000 pouches of illegal tobacco and £30,000 in cash has narrowly avoided prison after pleading guilty at Truro Crown Court.

Herbert Reed, 65, of Trenoweth Estate, North Country, Redruth had earlier pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to the sale of illegal tobacco products from his home address.

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Following tip offs from members of the public, Trading Standards officers, with the assistance of Devon and Cornwall Police, executed a warrant at the home of Reed in July 2017.

Almost 1,000 pouches of illegal tobacco and £30,000 in cash was seized, along with records indicating that Reed’s illegal business had operated since at least December 2014.

In passing sentence, HHJ Carr warned Reed that his operation had clearly been going on for some time and that only his early guilty plea and his poor health had saved him from an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the seriousness of his offending. 

Nevertheless, Reed was sentenced to 9 months in prison, suspended for two years, for having the criminal property in his possession with an additional 8 month prison sentence, again suspended for two years, for evading excise duty. Reed will now also face financial recovery proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Steve Brown, Interim Director of Public Health, said:  “Trading Standards action like this directly supports our efforts to reduce smoking levels in Cornwall. We know that price is an important motivator when a smoker decides to quit, so the sale of cheap tobacco absolutely undermines all encouragement to quit.

"As smoking is the number one cause of preventable ill health anything that can be done to reduce smoking levels has to be a good thing for the residents of Cornwall.”

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council's Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Public Protection, said:  “I am proud of the work that our Trading Standards officers undertake in combatting sales of illegal tobacco.

"This criminal activity affects the health of local communities, undermines local businesses and starves our schools and health services of unpaid taxes.

"In this particular case, officers received good information from members of the public and we would encourage anyone with information about illegal tobacco sales in their area to report it via email to