Preston shopkeeper’s £3,000 fine for illicit tobacco

Fined: Sohel Vohra
Fined: Sohel Vohra
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A director and his store have been fined £3,000 over the discovery of illicit tobacco in an ATM machine and microwave.

Sohel Vohra, 35, of Manor Avenue, Fulwood – director of the Vohra Store on South Meadow Lane – denied possessing for supply tobacco that did not comply with labelling legislation, but was convicted by Preston magistrates.

Prosecuting for Lancashire Trading Standards, Nick McNamara said: “The circumstances in which the products were found, together with what Sohel Vohra told officers, do not provide a credible explanation for their presence within the shop – in other words, the story doesn’t stack up.

“The prosecution invite you not to attach any particular significance to what might only seem to be a small quantity.

“The trade in illicit tobacco products is commonplace in shops of this size where officers have detected a shift towards storing only small quantities of product, with further stocks kept in nearby houses or vehicles in an effort to frustrate activity by enforcement agencies like HMRC and trading standards.”

The bench heard Vohra claimed two tobacco pouches were bought for his own use from a car boot sale and he had put them in a microwave so he could “smoke at work”. He said a friend bought 10 packs of Superkings back for him from holiday and he put them in the ATM to “keep them safe” after deciding he didn’t like them.

The firm must pay £594 costs.