From: News Wales
A Maerdy man who sold illegal tobacco and cigarettes, earning himself over £12,000 has seen his operation go up in smoke thanks to a successful prosecution by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards team.
The important case against Morgan John Morley, 68, of Springfield Road was heard at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court and is yet further proof of the Council’s commitment to protecting the public – and those in business who operate legally – from offenders.
The offences were uncovered when a warrant was executed at Morley’s address last October and a quantity of tobacco labelled as Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf and 200 cigarettes labelled as Raquel were found in a drawer under Morley’s bed. Officers also found £12,300 cash in the house, which Morley later admitted was the amount of money he had made from selling the fake products to others.
The Raquel cigarettes were incorrectly labelled, in that they did not display the statutory health warnings, an offence under the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation & Sale) (Safety) Regulations 2002 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
The tobacco found that was labelled as Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf were sent off for testing with their “owners” and found to be counterfeit, a contravention of the Trade Marks Act 1994. Again, the counterfeit tobacco illegally-labelled Amber Leaf also did not display the statutory health warnings.
In interview, Morley told officers he was a smoker and had paid £5.50 for each pack of tobacco from an unidentified male in Aberdare. He also said he bought tobacco from Rheola Market in Glynneath and Splott Market in Cardiff.
He said he knew the legitimate price of a pack of tobacco was £14 and admitted he had been selling the tobacco and cigarettes at a higher cost than he had paid for them.
Kim Treloar, defending Morley, told the court her client was an elderly man who suffers with angina and cares for his wife. He also stated he has two adult sons, both of whom are disabled, living at home.
She said Morley was willing to forfeit the seized cash because he was aware his family home may be at risk if a financial investigation under Proceeds of Crime was launched.
He wanted to protect his family from any undue stress and was said to be at “low risk” for re-offending. The court was also urged to give him full credit for his early guilty plea.
After consideration, the bench stated that on this occasion they would sentence Morley outside of the sentencing guidelines normally applicable to cases of this nature. They gave him a conditional discharge for a period of 12 months and stated that he would not have to pay any contribution towards prosecution costs.
However, he would have to forfeit the £12,350 cash, as well as all of the seized tobacco and cigarettes.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “A recent report has shown one in 10 of all cigarettes smoked and half of all hand-rolled tobacco in Wales is counterfeit, with the problem particularly rife in the Valleys.
“This is an extremely shocking statistic and shows the damage that is being done to the health of our communities, with smokers being put at an even graver danger due to the fact the foods they are consuming are fake.
“As well as being highly illegal, such behaviour is also undermining our extensive efforts to reduce the number of people who smoke in our county borough.”