Suspended prison sentence for shop owner caught selling illegal tobacco
A Darlington man has been given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, after trading standards officers found counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes being sold from his shop.
The court heard that our trading standards officers visited Harry's Mini Market in October last year, following intelligence from the public suggesting illicit tobacco products were being sold there.
Qader, of Greenbank Road, Darlington, was present while an inspection of the premises was carried out. Officers found multiple packets of counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco as well as 182 vapes which exceeded the permitted volume of nicotine containing liquid.
Counterfeit products seized
The next month, on 11 November, a test purchase operation was carried out during which a trading standards officer was sold two packets of cigarettes bearing the Lambert and Butler brand.
Officers conducted a search of the premises and seized 120 Elux vapes which exceeded the permitted volume of nicotine containing liquid.
Again, on the 22 November a further test purchase was made, and this time the officer was sold another two packets of Lambert and Butler cigarettes by Mr Qader.
The Lambert and Butler cigarettes were examined by a brand protection representative and deemed to be counterfeit. None of the products seized contained the required health warnings.
Qader was invited to attend an interview under caution but did not attend.
In mitigation, Qader said he had no knowledge of what he was selling. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £330 in costs as well as a £187 victim surcharge.
Gary Carr, our strategic regulation manager, said: "Illegal tobacco is harming communities across County Durham. Not only does it bring crime into our county, it makes it easier for children to start smoking and seriously undermines the work of the stop smoking service.
"This prosecution shows our officers are committed to reducing the harm caused by the illegal tobacco trade and I would urge members of the public to continue reporting it to us so that we can take the appropriate action."
To report any sales of illegal products, contact our trading standards team by emailing email@example.com or calling 03000 261 016.