A man who had 47,000 illegal cigarettes and 10 kilos of hand rolling tobacco at his Sunderland home has narrowly avoided jail.
David Clark, 34, had cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco worth £16,222 in unpaid duty at his home in Kismet Street, Southwick.
Northumbria Police found 47,400 counterfeit Mayfair King Size cigarettes and 10.35kg of Robin Hood tobacco at his home when they visited for an unrelated matter in December 2017. The illegal goods were seized by the police and the case was passed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to investigate.
Messages on Clark’s phone and a social media account showed he planned to sell the illegal cigarettes.
Clark admitted excise fraud at Newcastle Crown Court in September and was sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for 24 months, at the same court this week.
He has previously been convicted for a number of theft, drug and public disorder offences.
Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "Clark cheated taxpayers out of money which should be used to fund our public services and thought he could get away with it. But he was wrong.
"We will continue to work with partner agencies to crack down on black market trade in illegal tobacco."
PC Peter Baker, of Northumbria Police, said: "The possession and sale of illegal cigarettes is a crime we take very seriously and any individuals found to be involved in this type of criminality will be actively pursued.
"This kind of offence is far from victimless and brings crime into our communities. As a result, we will always support punishments handed out to perpetrators."
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business or by calling the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 88