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Gloucestershire Business News

Businessman jailed following raid

A trading standards raid on two businesses owned by a Gloucester man has resulted in a prison sentence and a £1,800 fine.

Badran Said, 42, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for selling illegal tobacco from stores in Eastgate Street, Gloucester between October 2016 and July 2017.

Said was the owner of the local store Asian European when Trading Standards visited between October and November 2016.

Officers seized 647 packets of cigarettes and 112 pouches of hand rolling tobacco.

Trading Standards also targeted Said's second business, Costless, in 82 Eastgate Street between May and July 2017.

It made three test purchases and five inspections, seizing 761 packets of cigarettes and 256 packs of hand rolling tobacco.

In total officers found 1,408 packets of cigarettes, of which 324 were counterfeit, and 368 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco, of which 32 were counterfeit.

Said pleased guilty to 22 charges when he appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison which, reduced to 8 weeks for an early guilty plea.

Sentences are to run concurrently. Said was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,713.30 and a victim surcharge of £115 (to be paid on 15 February 2019).

Magistrates decided this was a first offence as it predated his conviction for similar offences in Hull in August.

The Magistrates felt that there was a large number of counterfeit items and substantial gain for either him or others that carried on for a long time despite the warnings. Given those reasons they felt there were no grounds for suspending the sentence.

Costless, 82 Eastgate Street, Gloucester has closed down shortly after the actions taken by trading standards officers.

Asian European Store has been subject to two closure orders since Said left the premises as subsequent owners have continued to sell illegal tobacco.

Councillor Dave Norman, cabinet member responsible for trading standards said: "This example shows that we are serious about taking action whenever we find anyone selling illegal tobacco".

"The sale of illegal tobacco not only avoids taxation, it also undermines legitimate businesses in Gloucestershire and puts money into the hands of criminals deliberately flouting the law."

Anyone with information on the sale of illegal tobacco can report it by calling 03454 040506 or anonymously via the Trading Standards' website http://glos.tradingstandards.uk/report.htm

Gloucestershire Stop Smoking Service can be contacted on 0300 421 0040 or at www.stopsmokingglos.nhs.uk

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