The discovery of a hidden compartment containing illegal cigarettes at a grocery store in Rugby has led to the prosecution if its owner.
Earlier this year, Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards carried out a series of raids on retail premises believed to be selling counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco.
Shop and Save, located at 23 Church Street in Rugby, was one of the premises Trading Standards Officers and Warwickshire Police visited and searched using trained sniffer dogs.
This led to the discovery of a hidden compartment above a toilet, opened by an electromagnet. Inside, officers discovered over 4,000 cigarettes and 2,250g of hand rolling tobacco.
At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on October 10, the shop’s owner Mr Imad Ali Mohammed of Eagle Street, Coventry, pleaded guilty to nine Trade Marks Act and 16 safety related Consumer Protection Act offences.
He was fined £500 for the supply of tobacco products that did not comply with the Tobacco Products Regulations and £500 for the Trade Marks Act offences. He was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £3,477.20, making a combined total of £4,577.20.
All seized cigarettes and tobacco were forfeited and destroyed.
In mitigation, Mr Murray (defending) stated that Mr Mohammed had no previous convictions and the secret compartment came with the shop when he purchased the business. He further said that the defendant had regular customers who would ask for foreign imported cigarettes which were not openly on display, so no-one was mistakenly buying them as genuine and his intention was to clear the stock and to reassess the business at that stage.
Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “All smoking kills but the sale of illegal tobacco, often at pocket money prices makes it easier for children and young people to buy these products.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee added: “Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to take action to stop the sale of illegal tobacco in Warwickshire and protect the health of young people.
“I strongly urge anyone with information about the illegal sale of cigarettes to report it on our confidential fakes hotline on 0300 303 2636”.