Shopkeeper sold illegal cigarettes at pocket money prices

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A shopkeeper was caught selling illicit tobacco for as little as £3.30 from a pouch behind the till in his shop.

Idris Patel sold undercover officers RHD cigarettes and Golden Classics - brands specifically manufactured for the black market - on two occasions, Preston Magistrates Court heard.

Patel, 40, of Lex Street, Preston, has owned Pound Plus on New Hall Lane, Preston, for 20 years.

He and the firm were accused of two counts of supplying tobacco products which did not comply with warning requirements and one of possessing it.

He did not attend court for the hearing, and magistrates proved the case in his absence.

Prosecuting, Nick McNamara said how an undercover police officer had been sold the illegal products and added: “ There is no control on the level of harmful substances they can contain.

“Illicit products are sold much cheaper than genuine counterparts and that makes it easier for children and adults afford to buy them, and threatens the trade of legitimate traders because they find it impossible to compete.”

The case is adjourned until January 29.