A BLACKPOOL man who provided cheap cigarettes for street sellers on the resort's Golden Mile has been forced to hand over more than £100,000 he made from smuggling.

Alexander Gordon Paton, 53, of Woodfield Road, Blackpool, also faces 12 months in jail after evading £97,000 in excise duty. He will also serve a further three months for money laundering, to be served consecutively.

If he fails to come up with the sum of £141,868.60 within 18 months he will, by default, receive a further three year sentence.

Paton admitted the offences at Preston Crown Court on Friday.

The investigation started almost five years ago, when Paton was seen on Blackpool promenade, supplying goods for a man who was selling packets of cigarettes to visitors for just £2.50. Both were arrested.

A raid was conducted on Paton's home, revealing a sauna room that looked more like a well-stocked shop, the court heard.

The search revealed 26,140 cigarettes, 10.75 kilos of tobacco and 56 litres of spirits.

Also found was a quantity of cash, £10,780.48 sterling, 16,450 Belgian francs and 20 French francs, as well as receipts from a cigarette and tobacco warehouse and evidence of sales to people in the Blackpool area.

Further investigations, centring on two building society books held by Paton, revealed accounts holding a total of £177,362.46.

Two days after his arrest, Paton closed the accounts and transferred the funds to a bank in Luxembourg.

The removal of the money lead to the money laundering charges, which Paton also admitted.