Man fined £2,000 for selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco
- Credit: Suffolk County Council
A man has been fined more than £2,000 after raids on his shop on the coast found illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
Test purchases were made by Suffolk Trading Standards at Bargain Point, a convenience store on London Road North in Lowestoft, in October 2019.
Warning letters were then sent to the person named as the owner about the sale of illegal goods, Ipswich Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday (July 7).
Despite warnings, police later raided the premises, in April last year, and found more illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
Laura Austin, prosecuting, said either the health warnings on the packets were not written in English or the packaging was not in the correct colouring or shade.
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She said: "We cannot these cigarettes are fake cigarettes. They may be fake, we just don't know.
"At the very least, they appear to be purchased from abroad somewhere and do not comply with UK customs, and duty would not be paid on them in the normal way," Ms Austin added.
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She said the retail value of the tobacco seized was about £3,453.
Zafar Niazi, from Northampton, admitted the sale of the tobacco but said he was not present at the time of the raids and had left it to others to run the shop.
The offences date from October 2019 and April 2020.
Niazi has since sold the store, the court heard.
The magistrates fined him a total of £2,010.
The court heard that Niazi took over the shop in November 2018.
Mr Khalil, mitigating, said that the defendant was a man of previous good character who took over the shop at the suggestion of a friend.
"What he didn't realise was how often he would need to be at the shop and how difficult it was to be running a business," the solicitor said.
The court also heard that due to Covid, Niazi wasn't able to be at the shop as often and he had to participate in home-schooling his children in Northampton.
He moved to the UK in 2009 as a 15-year-old asylum seeker as his country was at war.
Mr Khalil said that Niazi struggled for years but slowly adapted to his new surroundings, working in takeaways in Northampton.
The court fined him £800 for each of the two offences, as well as ordering him to pay £250 towards the prosecution costs.