A shopkeeper who continued to sell illegal and counterfeit tobacco products after his premises were raided by trading standards has been fined.
Officers from Salford City Council Trading Standards found cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco hidden in a basement and back room at Broughton Convenience Store Ltd when they carried out an inspection on 19 November 2019. When they returned nine days later, they found more illegal cigarettes concealed around the shop.
In total the two raids yielded 12,950 cigarettes – 920 of which were counterfeit – and 148 pouches of hand rolling tobacco, also confirmed to be counterfeit. The estimated total street value was £11,256.
Karzan Ibrahim Abdullah, director of Broughton Convenience Store Ltd, pleaded guilty to offences under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Trade Marks Act 1994 for possession and sale of illicit tobacco products when the case was heard at Salford and Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 16 December 2021.
Abdullah was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £920. The limited company was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of £920, as well as a victim surcharge of £95. A forfeiture order was also made for all goods seized.
The court heard that when trading standards officers and a specialist dog handler initially visited the business they asked a member of staff if there were any illicit tobacco products on the premises. The member of staff presented a carrier bag containing illicit cigarettes then ran out of the shop, leaving it unattended, shouting “I don’t know, the boss is not here.”
Whilst officers were still present, Abdullah arrived and admitted he had been selling the cigarettes.
On 28 November 2019 officers carried out a follow-up visit. They asked Abdullah if any illicit tobacco products were still in the store and he replied, “You can check.”
The premises were then inspected and cigarettes and tobacco were found behind the till and in a rear room at the premises. The items were seized.
Speaking after the case, Councillor David Lancaster, Lead Member for Environment, Neighbourhoods and Community Safety praised members of the public for reporting concerns about the business and thanked the trading standards team for making the seizures and bringing the prosecution.
“The business owner was well aware of the law but put profit above public safety,” he said.
“Selling counterfeit tobacco deprives the country of taxes to fund vital public services like the NHS and undermines all our attempts to help people quit smoking to protect their health. Illegal tobacco is often responsible for children starting smoking.
“Taking action and stopping these criminals makes our communities safer and I would encourage anyone who has information about the sale of illegal tobacco to contact us or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers.”