Worthing shopkeeper fined for illegal cigarettes

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A WORTHING shopkeeper has been ordered to pay more than £1,800 after pleading guilty to selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Akram Karim, a director of Worthing Kurdish Stores Ltd, 120 Montague Street, Worthing, was caught with 7,000 foreign labelled cigarettes and 5.2 kg of foreign labelled tobacco, with a street value of around £4,360.

The goods were found at the store inside wooden casing surrounding a dummy electrical socket that had a plug plugged into it to make it look real.

Some of the cigarettes were confirmed as counterfeit, with some of those tested found to be unsafe as they did not self-extinguish. Others were foreign labelled.

Richard Sargeant, Team Manager for Trading Standards, said: “Cheap, illicit tobacco can be attractive to those on low incomes, including young people, who are amongst the priority groups we are particularly keen to support to not start, or to give up smoking.

“Unsafe cigarettes that do not self-extinguish are dangerous and have in the past led to house fires.

“We are grateful to consumers and local businesses who have supplied valuable information and we are committed to tackling this illegal trade.

The goods were originally seized in October 2013 and the matter went to court. However Karim, 30, failed to attend court then and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He was arrested coming into the UK last September and in mid-November plead guilty to 5 offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the General Product Safety Regs 2005.

Karim was fined £800 by Worthing Magistrates Court and ordered to pay £1000 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. A forfeiture and destruction order was also made to the seized tobacco products.

David Barling, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents Services with responsibility for Trading Standards, warned: “Catching and prosecuting offenders like Mr Karim sends out a clear, no nonsense message to others trying to sell cheap, illicit tobacco. This illegal trade can put people’s health at risk and harm legitimate traders.

“This case shows we are committed to removing illegal cigarettes from the marketplace and will take full and forceful action to do so.”

If readers have any information about illegal tobacco sales please let Trading Standards know by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or by reporting details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.

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