A Redruth man who was caught with 1,000 pouches of illegal tobacco and £30,000 in cash narrowly avoided prison after pleading guilty at Truro Crown Court.

Herbert Reed, 65, of Trenoweth Estate, North Country, Redruth pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to the sale of illegal tobacco products from his home address.

Following tip offs from members of the public, Trading Standards officers with the assistance of Devon and Cornwall Police executed a warrant at his home in July 2017.

Almost 1,000 pouches of illegal tobacco and £30,000 in cash was seized, along with records indicating that Reed’s illegal business had operated since at least December 2014.

In passing sentence, judge Simon Carr mentioned that Reed's operation had clearly been going on for a long time. He went on to say that only his early guilty plea and poor health saved him from an immediate custodial sentence.

Reed was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years for possession of the illegal tobacco, with an additional eight month sentence suspended for two years for evading excise duty.

He will now also have to pay back some of the money earned through his illegal activities under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Steve Brown, interim director of public health, said: “Trading Standards action like this directly supports our efforts to reduce smoking levels in Cornwall. We know that price is an important motivator when a smoker decides to quit, so the sale of cheap tobacco absolutely undermines all encouragement to quit.

"As smoking is the number one cause of preventable ill health anything that can be done to reduce smoking levels has to be a good thing for the residents of Cornwall.”

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council's cabinet member for neighbourhoods and public protection, said: “I am proud of the work that our Trading Standards officers undertake in combatting sales of illegal tobacco.

"This criminal activity affects the health of local communities, undermines local businesses and starves our schools and health services of unpaid taxes.

"In this particular case, officers received good information from members of the public and we would encourage anyone with information about illegal tobacco sales in their area to report it via email to report-it@cornwall.gov.uk”