A shop worker has been ordered to pay more than £1,500 and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work after fake tobacco was found at the premises where he was working.
Sarko Ali, of Oxford Road, Barnsley, was found guilty of possessing illegal tobacco for supply following a trial at North Staffordshire Justice Centre last week.
The court heard the 34-year-old, who worked at Market Street Mini Market, in Market Street, Longton, was in the shop on both occasions when trading standards officers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council carried out pre-planned searches of the premises on June 14 and October 27 in 2016. They seized illegal tobacco – including 58 packets of cigarettes – which will now be destroyed.
Following the prosecution, Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco is an offence that we take very seriously. People who deal in illegal tobacco are more likely to encourage others – especially children and young adults – to smoke, and they are also harming legitimate businesses and damaging communities.
“It’s an offence we take very seriously and we will always take action against anyone found to be involved in the storage, distribution or supply of illegal tobacco. People may think it’s a victimless crime, but it’s far from it and the consequences can be far-reaching.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of these court cases, and will continue to work with our partners in the police to take action against any trader found to be selling illegal tobacco in the city.”
Anyone with information about people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco can report it by calling the fakes hotline on 01782 238444.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.