A MAN has pleaded guilty to possessing illegal tobacco following a joint operation between Trading Standards and Cumbria Police.

Shaun Dalrymple, 35 of South Middleton, Broxburn, West Lothian, was stopped on the M6 near Carlisle travelling north in his car. The car contained thousands of illicit Benson and Hedges and Mayfair cigarettes as well as a large quantity of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco.

Dalrymple was handed an eight month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £140. He will have to complete 40 hours of unpaid community work. All of the counterfeit products were forfeited and will be destroyed.

The court case has prompted Cumbria County Council's Trading Standards service to pledge that they will continue to take action against people and businesses selling such items.

Cllr Celia Tibble, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: "These are serious criminal offences. Illegal sales of tobacco in Cumbria have a huge impact on people’s health.

"When these counterfeit products are sold, considerably below the price of the legal product, they undermine the efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking. They also encourage people who want to quit to maintain their habit."

"We will not tolerate the illegal sales of tobacco and will continue to take firm action to stop this type of activity by using our enforcement powers against those we catch.

"Our officers routinely act on intelligence we receive, as they did in this case, so I would encourage consumers to continue to report those involved in selling illicit tobacco because their valuable information can significantly aid our investigations."

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health at Cumbria County Council, said: "Young people are particularly at risk from the illegal trade in selling counterfeit tobacco products.

"I would encourage anyone with information about illegal tobacco sellers to report them to Trading Standards on 03454 04 05 06.”