Banbury couple sentenced over illegal Facebook cigarette sales
A Banbury husband and wife who were found guilty of selling illegal tobacco using social media sites have been sentenced to suspended prison sentences and fined following a prosecution by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.
At Oxford Magistrates Court on Thursday, 30 November, Krzysztof Bugno, 42, received 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years with 30 rehabilitation days and £2000 costs. Ewelina Bugno, 41, received eight months’ imprisonment suspended for two years with £1000 costs.
The prosecution followed a raid at their home address by the council’s trading standards team and Thames Valley Police. More than 44,000 illicit cigarettes and 24.5 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco were seized. Magistrates ordered that this be forfeited and destroyed.
The haul, which at that time was the largest ever made by the local authority, had a street value of £20,000. The pair had originally entered guilty pleas at a hearing on 3 November.
Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety: “Oxfordshire’s trading standards team, working in partnership with Thames Valley Police and other agencies will continue to crack down on the sale of these illegal products. 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.”
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, added: “We are serious about taking action whenever we find anyone selling illegal tobacco. Its sale not only avoids taxation, which means less money for schools, the NHS and local communities, it also undermines legitimate businesses in Oxfordshire and puts money into the hands of criminals.”
Tobacco fraud is reported to cost the UK around £2 billion a year while treating smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS a similar amount annually.
Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco should contact 0300 999 6 999 or report it anonymously online at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk.