Illicit sales lead to fine

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A trader who had been warned about selling illegal tobacco products has found himself £780 out of pocket after continuing to supply it at his shop three months later.

Sirwan Darkala, 28, who is proprietor of the Nasza Biedronka mini market on New Hall Lane, Preston, was prosecuted by Lancashire Trading Standards over the supply of illicit tobacco products on three occasions in October and November 2013.

Preston Magistrates Court heard in one case, a Polish-speaking test purchaser, Michal Nurek, was advised to “hide” the illegal L&M branded cigarettes before leaving the shop.

Prosecuting, Nick McNamara said: “ L&M is a smuggled brand of cigarettes intended for sale overseas. As such, packs are labelled in a language other than English, which denies consumers valuable information about the dangers of smoking.

“Smuggled products are always sold much cheaper than their genuine counterparts and so undermine price-related efforts to reduce smoking rates among children and adults.

“They also threaten the livelihoods of honest retailers in the area who find it impossible to compete against illicit sales.

He added: “Sirwan Darkala was interviewed on October 16, when he confirmed that he was the owner of the business, and had been for the past year.

Three weeks later Mr Nurek went back to the shop and saw two other customers buy L&M cigarettes, before being served himself.

Darkala was found guilty in his absence.

He was fined £500 and ordered to pay a £50 surcharge and £230 costs.