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Gloucestershire Business News

Trading standards team net counterfeit goods 'worth almost £10,000'

A shop owner and two assistants have received suspended prison sentences after illegal tobacco potentially worth thousands of pounds was discovered at an off-licence.

Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard how the trading standards team from Gloucestershire County Council made seven undercover purchases and five seizures of illegal tobacco from Eastgate Off Licence in Gloucester.

On one occasion they found tobacco hidden in a secret compartment behind a false fuse box at the rear of the shop.

In total they seized 960 packs of cigarettes and 124 pouches of hand rolling tobacco which, if legal, would sell for almost £10,000.

It was estimated that the duty they avoided paying on the tobacco amounted to nearly £5,000.

All three of the defendants entered guilty pleas.

The shop owner, Shakwan Ahmed, 32, was sentenced to 16 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to do 160 hours of unpaid work. In addition he was ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £115.

Shop assistant Bryar Salihi, 19, was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, 120 hours of unpaid work, with £150 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

Another shop assistant Karwan Namiq, 31, was given eight weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, 80 hours of unpaid work with costs of £100 and a £115 victim surcharge.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "Our trading standards service has worked incredibly hard to stop the illegal trade of counterfeit tobacco at this store.

"Not only were the shop owner's actions legally wrong, but morally wrong too as it could have caused significant health issues to anyone buying these illegal products.

"I hope that cases like this act as a warning to traders who are operating illegally. We will bring you to account and see you in court."

Picture: The fuse box in which illegal tobacco was found

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