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Mother and son admit selling illegal tobacco

A mother and son from Camborne appeared before Truro Magistrates on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, where they admitted charges in relation to the supply of illegal tobacco products and the evasion of taxes and duties.  

Geraldine Linda Watling, age 62, from Gwelmor, Camborne and her son Simon David Watling, age 39, from Park-an-Tansys, Pengegon, Camborne admitted four charges between them in a prosecution brought by Cornwall Council. 

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The Court heard that on June 4, 2019, officers of Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards Team, HMRC and Devon & Cornwall Police executed simultaneous entry warrants at the homes of Geraldine Watling and Simon Watling. Over 300 pouches of foreign-labelled tobacco were discovered along with a number of mobile phones and £6,448 cash, hidden in a wellington boot.  

In acknowledging that both defendants admitted the charges at the first opportunity, Magistrates ordered Geraldine Watling to pay a fine of £240, a contribution of £3,000 towards the costs of bringing the prosecution and a victim surcharge payment of £32. They ordered Simon Watling to pay a fine of £120, a contribution of £2,500 towards the cost of bringing the prosecution and a victim surcharge of £32. 

They also ordered the forfeiture of all the items seized during the warrant. The £6,448 cash that was seized during the warrant had earlier been ordered forfeited by the Courts in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

Rachel Wigglesworth, Cornwall Council’s Director of Public Health, welcomed the sentence imposed by the court and explained the harm caused by illegal cigarettes. She said: “Almost 1,000 people die each year in Cornwall from smoking-related illness. The sale of cheap tobacco absolutely undermines all encouragement to quit. We have to encourage all possible action against those who sell illegal tobacco and cigarettes.”  

Councillor Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Public Protection said: “Our message is clear – selling illegal tobacco is a crime which can carry fines, community orders or prison. In this case it took a criminal conviction for the seriousness to register with the seller.  

“More and more of these cases are based upon information provided by local residents, a clear indication that communities are not happy to have this type of criminal activity taking place near their homes and businesses. Whether you are a shopkeeper or an individual selling from home, the chances are you will be reported if behaving illegally. Our crackdown will continue.”  

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco or alcohol can make a report in confidence by emailing report-it@cornwall.gov.uk