Shop sold illegal cigarettes which were hidden in counter

Around 5,000 unsafe cigarettes were seized in Dereham after concerns they were being sold to schoolc

Counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco were seized from Dereham shop - Credit: Archant

A store sold counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco concealed in a false front of a shop counter, a court heard.

Test purchases were made by Norfolk Trading Standards officers from the Mini Mart, in Dereham, and warning letters were sent to the person named as the owner about the sale of counterfeit goods, Norwich Crown Court heard.

tobacco

Illegal tobacco found in concealed cupboard in shop storeroom. - Credit: Norfolk County Council Trading Standards

Despite warnings, further illegal tobacco was bought by trading standards officers, who later raided the premises.

David Wilson, prosecuting, said counterfeit tobacco products seized had no combined health warning and did not comply with the standardised packaging required.

He said the retail value of the tobacco seized was about £5700. 

Norfolk County Council Trading Standards

Illegal tobacco found in the hidden storage compartment under a shop counter. - Credit: Norfolk County Council Trading Standards

Osman Hassan, 35, from Coventry, admitted the sale of the counterfeit tobacco but claimed  he did not know what was happening as he  left it to others to run the shop. The offences are said to date between November 2018 until July 2019 and Hassan has since given up the store. 

Jailing him for four months suspended for a year, Judge Maureen Bacon said trading standards had become aware about the sale of counterfeit tobacco and written warning letters to him  as the named ratepayer of the shop.

tobacco

Concealed cupboard containing illegal tobacco is revealed. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

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She said the counterfeit tobacco was hidden within a false front to the counter and said: "Those customers who knew these cigarettes were available would ask for them, even though they were not on show to the general public."

She said in her view a serious aspect was selling tobacco without proper health warnings, as they were there to discourage smoking.

Jonathan Goodman, for Hassan, said  he  took over the shop in August 2018 and left it to others to run the shop.

He said although Hassan's estranged partner was living in Dereham at the time, he was still in Coventry and did not know anything about these cigarettes being sold.

However he said Hassan accepted as owner he had to take responsibility.

"He trusted others to look after the shop and did not profit from the sale of these cigarettes."

He said Hassan gave up the business in 2019 and was now  reconciled with his partner.

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