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Norwich shop owner Azad Rasole fined for selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco from under the counter

PUBLISHED: 18:07 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:28 28 July 2017

Illicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Illicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council

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A grocery shop owner has been ordered to pay more than £10,750 after he admitted selling illicit tobacco products from under the counter.

Illicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilIllicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Norwich Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday, June 27) heard how Azad Rasole, 29, of Tuckswood Lane, Norwich, had sold the products from International Food in Hall Road.

Trading Standards and the police for visited the shop on December 6 last year following a complaint, shortly after Rasole bought the business, and advised him that selling tobacco products smuggled in from other countries could jeopardise his business licence.

However on December 13, he sold a pack of cigarettes without the health warning required in the UK to a customer sent there by Trading Standards.

The police and Trading Standards paid another visit to the shop on January 31 this year, and found a total of 592 packets of cigarettes and 40 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco under the counter and stored in a van parked out the back.

Illicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilIllicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council

All of the tobacco products had come from overseas and did not carry the required health warnings.

Rasole also admitted obstructing an officer during the visit, as he refused to allow access to the van.

Tej Thakkar, mitigating, said Rasole had bought the illicit tobacco from an agent in good faith, believing they were legitimate.

He said Rasole was trying to recoup the money he spent on the tobacco by selling it on, although he had discovered it was illegal.

Illicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilIllicit tobacco and cigarettes siezed by Trading Standards at International Food in Norwich. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Mr Thakkar said: “He has acted with co-operation, remorse and regret since these events.

“He accepts that once it was brought to his intention he should have known better.

“He has learned the error of his ways and it’s not a situation he wants to find himself in again.”

Rasole was fined £7,450 and ordered to pay costs of £3,134.94 and a £170 victim surcharge. The sum is to be paid at £250 a month.

An order was made for the illicit tobacco products to be destroyed.

During the January inspection, a backpack containing £3,770 was also seized, which Mr Thakkar said was profits from the business. That money was also forfeited.

In reading the sentence, the Rev Paul Rosier, chair of the bench of magistrates, said: “It’s quite clear to us you knew what you were doing.”

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