Illegal cigarettes sold at the Dereham store
A store was selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco concealed in a false front of a counter, a court has heard.
Test purchases were made by Norfolk Trading Standards agents at the Mini Mart, Dereham, and warning letters were sent to the person named as owner about the sale of counterfeit goods, Norwich Crown said Short.
Despite the warnings, other illegal tobacco was purchased by trade standards officers, who then raided the premises.
David Wilson, prosecuting, said the seized counterfeit tobacco products had no combined health warnings and did not comply with the required standardized packaging.
He said the retail value of the tobacco seized was around £ 5,700.
Osman Hassan, 35, of Coventry, admitted selling counterfeit tobacco but said he didn’t know what was going on because he was leaving the store to others. The infringements are said to date between November 2018 and July 2019 and Hassan has since given up on the store.
Sentencing him to four months in prison suspended for one year, Judge Maureen Bacon said Business Standards were aware of the sale of counterfeit tobacco and wrote warning letters to him as the store’s named taxpayer.
She said the counterfeit tobacco was hidden in a false front of the counter and said: “Those customers who knew these cigarettes were available would ask for them, even if they weren’t on display to the general public.”
She said that in her view, a serious aspect was the sale of tobacco without proper health warnings, as they were there to discourage smoking.
Jonathan Goodman, for Hassan, said he took over the store in August 2018 and left it to others to run the store.
He said that although Hassan’s ex-partner lived in Dereham at the time, he was still in Coventry and knew nothing about the sale of these cigarettes.
However, he said Hassan had agreed as the owner that he had to take responsibility.
“He trusted others to run the store and didn’t profit from selling those cigarettes.”
He said Hassan quit the business in 2019 and is now reconciled with his partner.