Little OAP jailed or drugs

A LITTLEHAM pensioner, who ran a secret cigarette smuggling and contraband goods business from his flat, has been jailed.

A LITTLEHAM pensioner, who ran a secret cigarette smuggling and contraband goods business from his flat, has been jailed.Exeter Crown Court heard when police and customs mounted raids on 67-year-old John Gill's home in Exmouth, they found 180,000 cigarettes, 10 kilos of cannabis and items of counterfeit clothing. They also found nearly �8,500 in cash in a safe as well as scales and plastic bags.Prosecutor Oliver Carlyon said in all the property seized was worth in excess of �85,000 and the total duty evaded by Gill amounted to a little over �51,500.When he was interviewed by the police, Gill told them that �5,000 of the cash in the safe was profit from drug dealing and the rest was savings and benefit payments.He said he would sell the drugs and cigarettes to anyone who wanted to buy them. He had been running the cigarette smuggling and sales operation for four years and the drug dealing for between 12 and 18 months.Mitigating, John Taghdissian said Gill had bought cannabis for his wife to ease the pain when she was ill and, after she died, he was put upon by his dealer to start selling the drugs as well as the cigarettes. He was selling on the open market and for profit, but his level in the chain was somewhat limited. He would buy the goods at wholesale prices and deal to people who contacted him.Defence counsel submitted that it was not a sophisticated enterprise and he was vulnerable when approached by people who showed an interest in supplying him. He was naive in some respects and this was the only time in his life that he had embarked on crime.Gill, of Mountain Close, pleaded guilty to two drugs offences, seven trading standards charges and three relating to the evasion of duty.Jailing him for 20 months, Judge Phillip Wassall told Gill: "You have been a smuggler and dealer in contraband goods since 2005 and it was mainly tobacco that provided you with your profit. "You were acquiring the cannabis in bulk, starting with herbal cannabis and then moving on to resin."I accept that you drifted into this enterprise following the death of your wife because you enjoyed meeting people."I take in account your ill health and what has been said on your behalf, but you were dealing in drugs and contraband goods in a substantial way and there is no alternative to an immediate custodial sentence.