A BOOTLEGGER has admitted storing £60,000 of counterfeit tobacco products in a secure unit near his East Devon home.

Cornelius Buckleigh was caught on CCTV as he used a code entry pad to get into and out of the secure unit at Chard, Somerset, where he stored the tobacco.

He claimed another man was using the unit but changed his plea on the first day of his trial at Exeter Crown Court.

Buckleigh, aged 64, of Chardstock, near Axminster, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty on tobacco products on July 14, 2016.

A second charge of using three trade marks without authority is not being pursued.

The charges arise from a raid by HM Customs and Excise on a storage unit during which large amounts of tobacco was seized.

Judge David Evans adjourned sentence and released Buckleigh on bail but warned him he may be sent to jail when the case returns to court on February 19.

He said:"I am adjourning the case in order for the probation service can prepare a pre-sentence report. You must understand that all options remain open and you may be sent to prison."

Mr Sean Brunton, prosecuting, said Buckleigh had claimed that the tobacco belonged to another man named Mr Williams, who had access to the unit.

He said all access was timed and CCTV showed Buckleigh using a code to enter the facility and then driving his van to the unit where the tobacco was found.

The use of the entry pad activated the CCTV system but there was no footage showing anyone else going to the unit.

He said:"We say the entire story about Mr Williams is a cock and bull story. You cannot go in and out of the storage area in this way. The gates opened when the defendant used the code to get in."

Mr Paul Grumbar, defending, said Buckleigh's case had been that the yard was not secure and it was possible for anyone, including Mr Williams, to go in and out without activating the CCTV.