Wolverhampton shop owner jailed after selling illegal cigarettes to child
A Wolverhampton shop owner who sold illegal cigarettes and tobacco – including to a child – has been jailed for 24 weeks. Mohammed Sokhanvar Mahani, who runs Super Mahan in Thornley Street, was jailed after pleading guilty to 12 charges including breaching the Fraud Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
His shop, located in the town centre, has had a long history of problems, says Wolverhampton Council. These included complaints, seizures of illegal tobacco as well as sales to underage customers and the sale of individual cans of very strong alcohol – contrary to the store’s license.
The local authority said the sale of illegal cigarettes dated back to 2019. In June that year West Midlands Police seized 171 tablets of Subitex – a Class C controlled drug – along with 880 illicit cigarettes and 200 g of foreign-labeled rolling tobacco in the store. , after officers executed a drug warrant.
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A month later, on July 5, 2019, the store sold a pack of illegal cigarettes to a 15-year-old volunteer during a shopping test. Later that afternoon, trading standards officers visited the store with police to discuss underage sales.
During this visit, two more packages of foreign cigarettes were discovered under the counter of a tin can. Then, two months later, on the evening of September 2017, police and trading standards officers visited the store with tobacco sniffing dogs.
They found four packs of 20 Gold NZ cigarettes and three packs of 20 Bahman cigarettes in the stairwell behind the store, an area where illicit cigarettes had been found on a previous occasion. These tobacco products were seized, along with cans and bottles of beer, lager and cider over 6.5% ABV due to violations of licensing conditions.
On December 17, 2019, the council’s trading standards department requested a review of the store’s license. He was revoked the same day.
Mahani appeared in Dudley Magistrates Court yesterday, March 30, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced. He admitted ten other counts – relating to licensing, health warnings on packaging, standardized packaging that breached the Children and Families Act 2014 and protecting consumers from unfair trade .
As a result, Mahani was jailed for 10 weeks for breaching the Proceeds of Crime Act charge and 14 weeks for the fraud charge, with these sentences to be served consecutively. He was also imprisoned for four weeks on the other charge, which were also sentenced to be executed concurrently.
At Mahani’s sentencing, District Judge Wilkinson said selling illicit cigarettes to minors was tantamount to “selling poison to a child”. He added: “Do not insult my intelligence by claiming that previous warnings were not heeded.
“You knew exactly how serious and prosecuted offenses were regardless of greed.”
John Roseblade, director of housing and urban environment at Wolverhampton Council, said: “This is a great achievement for our trading standards officers who are working extremely hard to crack down on any business selling and supplying illegal and dangerous goods. We have seen repeated problems at this store where the owner has continued to sell illicit products, despite warnings from our Trading Standards team.
“Because illicit cigarettes carry such high risks, our officers work tirelessly to help protect the public from unsafe products.” Anyone who thinks they have been selling illegal goods, or suspects someone is selling them, can email [email protected] or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
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