A DEBT-RIDDEN dad was caught red-handed selling counterfeit cigarettes at a social club.
Jan Michael Sergeant had been under surveillance by police and Trading Standards officers for five months when he was caught with the haul of fake tobacco at Horden Victory Club.
Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that a search of his sister’s address uncovered 26,600 cigarettes and there were also 1,600 cigarettes and 69 50g packs of Golden Virginia and Turners rolling tobacco found in Sergeant’s Ford Focus when it was stopped outside the club on October 15 last year.
A further search revealed eight boxes containing 651 50g packs of tobacco, 1,600 Capital cigarettes and a sleeve each of Regal King Size cigarettes at his home, though he claimed these were for his own use.
He told investigating officers he would have made £6,479 from the tobacco products and £598 for over 30 cases of wine which were also seized.
Sergeant, of Kingston Crescent, Haswell, pleaded guilty to 10 offences, including eight charges relating to failing to comply with consumer protection regulations, possessing goods with a false trademark for sale and failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions that he was receiving an income by selling the goods.
The court heard Sergeant received an overpayment in benefits of £1,420.
Neil Bennett, mitigating, said: “These offences were borne out of his desperate attempts to deal with a debt situation that had been left with him not of his doing, circumstances where his ex-wife had taken out various financial obligations in the form of loans.”
He said Sergeant would be unsuitable for supervision as he is of previous good character and he is due to go on holiday, which would affect a curfew.
Justices adjourned the case until November 25 for sentencing.