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Shop keeper taken to court after illegal tobacco seized

Published: Friday, 2nd November 2018

A shop keeper has been ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work after hundreds of packets of illegal cigarettes and tobacco were seized.

Borhun Abdullah appeared at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on October 31 after previously pleading guilty to offences relating to the sale of counterfeit and incorrectly labelled tobacco products from his shop, Your Local Shop, in College Road, Shelton. The 35-year-old had also admitted failing to register as a food business.

The prosecution came following two test purchase exercises by Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards at the shop in September 2017 and February 2018. On one occasion, officers were able to buy 50g of counterfeit Amber Leaf hand-rolling tobacco for £4 – significantly lower than the genuine retail value of £21.

Following the second test purchase, officers returned to the property and seized 582 packets of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes, and 64 packs of illegal and counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco from the shop. The goods had a retail value of £5,800, street value of £2,300 and the evasion of £4,600 tobacco duty.

Abdullah, of Chorlton Road, Birches Head, was sentenced by magistrates to a 12-month community order with 160 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay £630 prosecution costs and an £85 victim surcharge. All illegal tobacco was ordered to be forfeited and destroyed.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Our trading standards team work hard to prevent people illegally selling counterfeit products, and this prosecution is another really good result for them.

“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 take action against any trader found to be selling illegal tobacco in the city.

“I would urge anyone considering buying from an illegal trader to think about the possible dangers and ask anyone who suspects or knows illegal sales are happening to report it so that we can put a stop to it. I hope the prosecution is a warning to others who are selling illicit cigarettes and demonstrates that we do take action.”

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.