An Oxfordshire couple have admitted to selling illegal cigarettes online after their home was raided.

Banbury husband and wife Krzysztof Bugno, 42, and Ewelina Bugno, 41, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday, November 3 after a raid at their home address by the council’s trading standards team and Thames Valley Police.

The raid led to the seizure of more than 44,000 illicit cigarettes and 24.5 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco, which at that time was the largest ever made by the local authority and had a street value of £20,000.

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The couple of Mold Crescent, Banbury, each entered guilty pleas to eight charges including being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty.

The court heard that on August 31, 2021, an undercover operative bought 10 packets of L&M cigarettes for £60 after responding to an advert posted by an account with a pseudonym on Facebook.

The operative was directed to the Bugno’s home address where Ms Bugno was recorded on a covert camera making the sale.

A follow-up took place on October 5, 2021, when 10 more packets were purchased, this time from Mr Bugno, resulting in a warrant to enter the property being executed on October 8 and illicit loot discovered contained within the lounge, master bedroom and loft.

Mobile phones were seized from each suspect with experts at the National Trading Standards E-crime unit called in to gain access to Mr Bugno’s phone, which revealed substantial evidence of illegal trading between June 2019 and October 2021. 

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The prosecution alleged that at least £40,000 in duty was evaded during this period.

Matters were adjourned to Oxford Crown Court for sentencing on November 30.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown CourtOxford Crown Court

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, cabinet member for public health, inequalities and community safety, said: “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 03009996999 or report it anonymously online at