A shopkeeper who hid illegal tobacco in a wall cavity in his store has been ordered to pay more than £1,300.
Dana Karim, who owned World Mini Market in Hanley, was found guilty of one count of selling counterfeit tobacco, and seven counts of possessing counterfeit tobacco for sale following a trial at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.
The court heard the Piccadilly shop was searched by Stoke-on-Trent City Council trading standards team in June 2017 following information from Staffordshire Police. During the search, council officers discovered a cavity concealed in a wall behind the false backing of a sink cabinet. Inside, they found 86 packs cigarettes and 11 pouches of hand rolling tobacco with a combined street value of £1,100.
In October 2016, Karim, aged 38, who lives on Festival Close, was convicted of four charges of possessing for sale counterfeit tobacco at the same shop following an investigation by the city council.
Karim was sentenced on Tuesday (14 August) to a 12-month community order and must undertake 150 hours unpaid work. He was ordered to pay costs of £1,369.16 and a £85 victim surcharge. The bench also granted a confiscation and destruction order for all the seized counterfeit products.
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 illicit tobacco is a crime which damages communities and harms legitimate businesses and we will take action against traders who knowingly sell it.
"Counterfeit tobacco is damaging to people's health and can undermine efforts to help people quit smoking as it is usually sold at a cheaper price. 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.
“We’re pleased with the outcome of this latest prosecution, 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 232671.