Shop owner caught with illegal tobacco - twice

Shop owner caught with illegal tobacco - twice
26 September 2018

A shop owner has been ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, after hundreds of packets of illicit cigarettes and tobacco were seized.

An officer from Darlington Trading Standards, part of Darlington Borough Council’s community safety team, visited SV Market, in Gladstone Street, on 9 February 2018, accompanied by officers from Durham Police.

The cigarette gantry was empty, but in a small stockroom at the rear of the store were 290 packs of cigarettes and 21 packs of hand rolling tobacco all of which were illegal. These were seized.

Less than two weeks later, on 21 February 2018, police following up a complaint visited the store and found more illegal cigarettes and tobacco concealed in crisp boxes.

This second visit resulted in the further seizure of 114 packs of cigarettes and 111 packs of hand rolling tobacco.

Trading Standards, on becoming aware of the second seizure, agreed to add the police case to theirs.

On 1 March 2018, the store owner Alan Qader Ahmad gave up ownership of the business.

He appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on Friday 21 September 2018 and entered a not guilty plea to five offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and a breach of the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015. He claimed to have no knowledge of any illegal cigarettes or their sale from the store.

The judge, on hearing the evidence, found Ahmad guilty of all charges and sentenced him to a 12 month Community Order, during which he must complete 120 hours of unpaid work. He also has to pay £700 in costs and the court an £85 victim surcharge. Forfeiture of the seized items was also granted.

Councillor Chris McEwan, Deputy Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “People who deal in illegal tobacco are more likely to encourage children and young adults to smoke. Our trading standards officers are working hard to keep these illegal products off our streets and will continue to crack down on those businesses and individuals that deal in them.”

Shaun Trevor, of Darlington Trading Standards, who was the investigating officer in the case, said: “One of our key priorities is to tackle illegal trading which undermines legitimate businesses in the borough.

“The outcome of this operation shows how seriously the courts take such matters. As well as supporting organised crime, the supply of illicit tobacco undermines work to reduce the harm caused by smoking and therefore we will continue to work with our partners to tackle this problem.”

If you have any information which can assist Trading Standards then please email [email protected] or report it at www.darlington.gov.uk/tradingstandards

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