Banbury burger van owner admits to illegal tobacco sideline

A Banbury burger seller has been prosecuted for dishing out side-orders of illegal tobacco from his van, after an investigation by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.  

Keith Richardson, 56, of Parsons Piece in Banbury, pleaded guilty to eight offences when he appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court last Friday.

On Tuesday, Richardson was sentenced to a 12 months’ community order of 180 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activities. He was also ordered to pay £1628 in costs. The court also ordered all the seized tobacco products to be forfeited and destroyed.

The court heard that after intelligence was received from the public, an undercover officer from Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards visited the burger van, which trades as Keith’s Catering Van, at the Hardwick Hill layby in Banbury, and carried out a test purchase of Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco in March this year. Discrepancies in the labelling were identified and both items were later confirmed as being counterfeit.

Following a further test purchase in June, trading standards officers and Thames Valley police officers executed warrants and seized counterfeit and smuggled tobacco from the van, a motor vehicle and a residential address.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “People can help us to stamp out illegal tobacco and create a healthier and safer Oxfordshire by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity using the illegal tobacco hotline.

“We know it can be hard to stop using tobacco products, but help is available. People are three times more likely to successfully quit by using a stop smoking service like Smokefree Oxfordshire. The service is free to everyone living in the county.” 

Anyone with information about the illegal sale of any tobacco products should contact 0300 999 6 999 or report it anonymously through the website stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk


As part of Operation CeCe, in just over a year, Oxfordshire County Council has seized nearly 750,000 illegal cigarettes and nearly 60,000 grams of illegal hand-rolling and shisha tobacco.

Photo: One of the labelling discrepancies (www.nhs.quit that should read www.nhs.uk/quit), which led officers to suspect the tobacco was counterfeit.

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