Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chinese Takeaway That Also Delivered Illegal Cigarettes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chinese Takeaway That Also Delivered Illegal Cigarettes

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Hill Reporter Laura.Hill@trinitymirror.com

ACHINESE takeaway was used as cover for a counterfeit cigarette operation worth tens of thousands of pounds.

A Peterlee man has been jailed and a woman given a suspended sentence after cigarettes worth more than PS17,000 were seized during raids on the business and other properties.

More than 86,000 cigarettes, PS8,300 in cash and a small amount of rolling tobacco were discovered in June 2015 during raids on properties linked to David Hutchinson and Amanda Wen Hua Liu.

The raids followed an operation by Durham County Council officers, during which Liu supplied 133 packets of counterfeit cigarettes worth around PS500 to an undercover Trading Standards officer. The authority began investigating Hutchinson, 58, of Eden Lane, after receiving information that he was involved in supplying illicit cigarettes to 'tab houses' in the East Durham area using a local Chinese takeaway as cover.

During surveillance on his home, Hutchinson was seen loading bags into the rear of a Ford Transit pick up. Liu was later seen removing what looked like three or four sleeves of cigarettes from the vehicle and taking them into The New Century takeaway in Fulwell Road, Peterlee.

Council officers began undertaking test purchases at the takeaway to see if Liu was selling on behalf of Hutchinson.

From March until May 2015, an officer visited the business, which is owned by Liu, numerous times and spoke to Liu on the phone to arrange the purchase of cigarettes.

Liu, 42, of Fulwell Road, sold fake individual and sleeves of Richmond and Mayfair cigarettes to the officer over the counter and to order.

On two occasions, the officer ordered a takeaway to be delivered to a rental address and also requested cigarettes. The meal and cigarettes were subsequently delivered.

In June, the officer called Liu asking to purchase 10 sleeves of cigarettes and it was agreed that he would pay PS350 for them. …

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