Lancashire TelegraphWhitewell Bottom grocer caught with illicit tobacco (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Whitewell Bottom grocer caught with illicit tobacco

Lancashire Telegraph: Stephen Fossey Stephen Fossey

A GROCER was found to have a £16,000 haul of illicit tobacco products without health warnings at his Whitewell Bottom home, a court was told.

Magistrates heard how Stephen Fossey, 44, had over 200 packets of Jin Ling cigarettes amongst the stash.

The cigarettes, which would sell at about half the price of genuine ones, were said to be produced in Eastern Europe especially for the black market and there were ‘absolutely no controls’ over what went into making them or the levels of harmful substances they may contain.

Fossey claimed he intended to give all the illegal cigarettes and tobacco to his son as payment for building work on a collapsed wall at his home.

The hearing was told Fossey had also been discovered with illicit tobacco products in a black bin liner in his mobile grocery store and with fake hand-rolling tobacco at his home.

He would say he paid £500 cash for the large find at his house and had bought them from a van on a lay-by on Rossendale Road, Burnley.

The defendant, of Foxhill Drive, admitted two counts of failing to comply with requirements of reg-ulations when supplying a tobacco product and one of possessing goods with a false trademark. His case was adjourned until tomorrow.

Nicholas McNamara, prosecuting for Trading Standards, said officers executed an entry warrant at a house on Rosehill Road, Burnley. It wasn't the defendant’s home but was thought to be associated with the supply of illicit tobacco products.

A blue van, apparently a mobile grocery store belonging to Fossey, was parked outside. Officers found 60 packets of Jin Ling inside, each containing 20 cigarettes and eight, 50-gram pouches of hand-rolling tobacco.

The prosecutor said officers discovered a considerable haul of illicit products, piled up in boxes, at his home.

David Leach, for Fossey, said he accepted he possessed illicit products, intending to supply, but he was going to pass them to a close relative.

Bench chairman Anthony Green told Fossey the aggravating features of the case were the large quantities involved and an element of financial gain.

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