Contraband tobacco found hidden in shop

Preston Magistrates' Court
Preston Magistrates' Court
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A shopkeeper was caught selling illicit tobacco 12 weeks after being convicted of the same offence, a court has heard.

Qadeer Akhter, 31, of Nevett Street, Callon, Preston, was summonsed to Preston Magistrates’ Court on allegations he supplied counterfeit tobacco at Megasaver, on Fishergate Hill, Preston.

The court heard investigators had found contraband tobacco hidden behind cartons of fruit juice and when officers dismantled a shelving unit and found other products hidden in a void space. He had another packet tucked into his sock.

He admitted possessing 20 packs of Palace cigarettes, eight of Marlboro, and 27 of Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco that did not comply with warning requirements.

On the same date he admitted having five pouches of counterfeit tobacco bearing the Golden Virginia trademark, and selling cigarettes to a 15-year-old boy.

During a hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court, Trading Standards prosecutor Nick McNamara said the case arose from an operation in July.

He said: “Illicit tobacco products are always sold much cheaper than genuine counterparts and this undermines price related strategies to discourage smoking among children and adults and threatens the livelihoods of neighbouring shops in the area who find it impossible to compete.

“Additionally with illicit products, there is no control over what goes into making them and the levels of harmful substances they contain.”

In a previous County Council prosecution, investigators found Akhter’s diary record of illicit tobacco sold at the store, which revealed in one week 283 packets had been sold - a turnover of around £1,500.

Investigators found counterfeit or illicit tobacco at the premises on October 16 last year and the same shop sold illicit cigarettes to an undercover Evening Post reporter in December 2012 during the Don’t Let Them Make a Packet campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of the illegal tobacco trade. Akhter, a father-of-one who came to the UK six years ago, has previously been cautioned by Trading Standards over selling illegal tobacco products.

Defending Michael Leach said: “He accepts his responsibility. There was no prevarication at all.” The case was adjourned until January 7.