A contraband cigarette salesman was caught selling fake tobacco three times in three years near Kidlington Market.

A notebook seized from Michael Addison on his final arrest in February this year suggested he had sold £31,000-worth of cigarettes in the month leading up to his arrest.

The 63-year-old, who was arrested in the late 2000s for allegedly selling contraband and counterfeit tobacco, admitted laundering through his bank account £155,000 made from his illegal sideline.

Sentencing him to two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge Maria Lamb said: “This was greed, pure and simple.

“It’s evident from what was said in the pre-sentence report that you became aware of somebody conducting this enterprise. That person got caught, as you told the author of the report, and you then essentially took over that operation.

“Having identified an opportunity you exploited the situation.”

Bicester Advertiser: Michael Addison outside Oxford Magistrates' Court Michael Addison outside Oxford Magistrates' Court (Image: Oxford Mail)

Prosecuting, Michael Forster told Oxford Crown Court on Monday (September 18) that a trading standards officer approached Addison’s car near Kidlington market on October 9, 2021, after seeing him serve three customers.

The council officer asked ‘can I get some fags, please?’ the prosecutor said. Addison was suspicious, asking the man who sent him.

Told that it was ‘Ross’, the defendant replied: “I normally get introduced.”

Notwithstanding Addison’s suspicions, he sold the trading standards officer packets of cigarettes in exchange for £50 cash. The cigarettes were later found to be counterfeit and the packs were not marked with the correct health warnings.

Council trading standards officers returned to the market with colleagues from the police on January 21, 2022.

Addison was in Watts Way car park, near Kidlington market, Mr Forster said. The defendant was seen selling hand-rolling tobacco to a customer.

When searched, his vehicle contained 486 packs of cigarettes and more than 200 packets of hand-rolling tobacco each weighing 50g. He also had around £440 in cash.

The tobacco products were variously found to be fake, bearing the logos of brands like Lambert and Butler, Golden Virginia and Richmond, or genuine products that had been smuggled into the country and on which tax had not been paid.

Checks showed he owned four residential properties only one of which was mortgaged, Mr Forster said.

He had declared to the authorities more than £18,700 in income said to have come from legitimate work at Kidlington market in 2022. However, his bank account showed payments from a Kidlington market fruit stall that only totalled £4,500.

Bicester Advertiser: Counterfeit tobacco was being sold from Addison's Vauxhall insignia Picture: Oxfordshire County CouncilCounterfeit tobacco was being sold from Addison's Vauxhall insignia Picture: Oxfordshire County Council (Image: Oxfordshire County Council)

Addison was caught selling counterfeit tobacco a third and final time on February 17, 2023, this time around the corner from the market in Brandon Close.

He was driving a different car, a Vauxhall Insignia. From him were seized 696 packets of cigarettes, almost 200 packs of hand rolling tobacco and more than £500 in cash. It was estimated that the cigarettes and tobacco could have been sold for £6,000.

The officers also found a notebook in which Addison had detailed transactions from the start of January until mid-February. A specialist tobacco officer concluded the book showed sales in excess of £31,000 over the one-month period.

Addison, of Portland Place, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to breach of tobacco regulations, fraudulently using trademarks and money laundering.

In mitigation, Kellie Enever said her client had worked hard in legitimate forms of employment. She asked the judge to suspend the prison sentence.

Judge Lamb ordered the defendant to complete 300 hours of unpaid work as part of his two year suspended prison sentence.

Addison faces Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, with the council looking to seize money and assets acquired through crime.