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Illegal tobacco worth £310,000 found in 35 bin bags in home near Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:46 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:39 05 March 2019

Ping He was sentenced to 12 months for illegal tobacco and using fake trademark. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Ping He was sentenced to 12 months for illegal tobacco and using fake trademark. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

An illegal immigrant was holed up around the clock in a room on the edge of Norwich when he was found with a huge stash of tobacco worth £310,000.

Illegal tobacco seized by Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council. PIC: Submitted by Norfolk County Council.Illegal tobacco seized by Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council. PIC: Submitted by Norfolk County Council.

Ping He was “drawn into the black economy” and was caught when police and trading standards officers raided a house on Notykin Street, Bowthorpe, on December 18 2018, Norwich Crown Court heard.

The court heard members of the public had reported suspicious activity - and when the raid team swooped, they found the 49-year-old with a manufacturing set-up of tobacco, counterfeit plastic tobacco pouches and other equipment used in the production of illegal tobacco.

He, who appeared alongside a Mandarin interpreter, admitted five offences involving the unauthorised use of a trademark.

Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, said more than 29 bin bags full of tobacco were found in an upstairs room, and a further six bags containing loose tobacco were found in a shed along with empty fake Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf pouches, duty stamps and cellophane wrappers.

Bin bags stuffed with tobacco at a house in Bowthorpe     Picture: Norfolk County CouncilBin bags stuffed with tobacco at a house in Bowthorpe Picture: Norfolk County Council

Mr Sawyer said there was also a number of large boxes containing full pouches of Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia ready for supply.

He said when arrested He told officers he was in the UK illegally and working for a man he described as his boss and had to fill the fake pouches with tobacco.

The court heard He also has a previous conviction from 2011, in Birmingham, when he was jailed for 21 days for possession of goods with a fake trademark.

Jonathan Goodman, for He, said that because he was illegally in the country he had been drawn in to work for the black economy.

Tobacco pouches found during a raid at a Bowthorpe house     Picture: Norfolk County CouncilTobacco pouches found during a raid at a Bowthorpe house Picture: Norfolk County Council

He said: “He was at the bottom of the pyramid and was in the firing line.”

Mr Goodman added: “He was living in a room at the house and effectively there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

He said that He would like to return to China.

Jailing He for 12 months, Judge Katharine Moore accepted although it was a significant operation He had played a limited role unlike those higher up the chain.

Part of the stash of illegal tobacco found at a house in Bowthorpe      Picture: Norfolk County CouncilPart of the stash of illegal tobacco found at a house in Bowthorpe Picture: Norfolk County Council

She added: “I hope you can see the effect of your criminal activity is wide ranging. Make this the very last time.”

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