Customers trying to buy cheap illegal tobacco from a corner shop were given “tickets” and told to go through the back door to a car waiting in the car park, a court has heard.
The ex-Costcutter shop on on Ribbleton Lane, Preston, featured in the Evening Post a month ago when it emerged it could no longer sell alcohol or cigarettes after the licensee walked away from the business.
Preston magistrates were told smuggled cheap tobacco had been sold from a car in the car park behind the store, with defendant Kaveh Mohamaddi, 32, who was waiting with a stash of the illegal goods.
Mohamaddi, of Kirkland, Kendal, Cumbria, admitted two counts of aiding and abetting the shop to supply illegal tobacco and must pay an £80 fine, £20 surcharge, £140 costs and a £150 court charge.
Prosecuting, Claire Box said: “These packs are usually labelled in foreign languages or carry no or out-of-date health warnings. They tend to be sold for around half the price of their lawful counterparts making it a more affordable habit, and threatening the livelihood of law abiding retailers in the area as they struggle to compete. The taxman also loses out on the duty and VAT.”
The bench was told on July 13, a Trading Standards volunteer visited the general store and asked for two packs of Mayfair cigarettes for which he paid £7. The man behind the counter wrote on a piece of paper and told him to take it to a red car in the car park. The volunteer went outside and handed the paper to the man sat in the driver’s seat and was given the two illicit packets.
Two days later on July 15, Trading Standards officers visited the shop and saw the same red car in the car park, with Mohamaddi at the wheel.
Officers found 464 packets of a variety of brands of cigarettes inside the car, all devoid of the required health warnings. Small pieces of paper “tickets” were also found on the ledge near the odometer.
Premises licence holder Ali Soran previously surrendered his licence last month and said the tobacco sales were outside the shop,