Repeat illicit tobacco trader is imprisoned

Illicit tobacco found in a vehicle registered to a Worthing convenience store
Illicit tobacco found in a vehicle registered to a Worthing convenience store

A man who repeatedly traded in illicit tobacco was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment yesterday (Wednesday, November 22).

Siavash Rostamy, who has been living in Brighton but is of no fixed address, was found guilty of six charges relating to the incorrect labelling of tobacco following a trial at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, October 25.

The case was sent to Lewes Crown Court for sentencing and he received nine months’ imprisonment for each of the charges, to run concurrently, a spokesman from West Sussex County Council said.

On 8 July, 2016, Rostamy was facing previous charges relating to the supply of illicit tobacco.

After this court hearing, he was spotted acting suspiciously near a vehicle and, following reports from the public, Sussex Police searched it and found 15,000 illicit cigarettes and 550 illicit tobacco pouches inside, according to the spokesman.

That same day, West Sussex Trading Standards officers visited Worthing Convenience Store, where the vehicle was registered to, and found Rostamy in possession of a holdall-style bag, and seized 200 illicit cigarettes, 70 pouches of illicit tobacco and £1,550 in cash.

In the 2016 proceedings, Rostamy admitted supplying illicit tobacco from Worthing Convenience Store, Chapel Road, Worthing, the spokesman said.

He received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, 100 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £1,200 costs.

In 2015, Rostamy, admitted the supply of illicit tobacco from a business premises and his vehicle, both in Hastings.

He was fined £200 for each of the five offences and ordered to pay £1,068 in court costs, a £20 victim surcharge, and to forfeit the illicit tobacco seized, according to the spokesman.

Trading Standards Team Manager Richard Sargeant said: “In the most recent case, the cigarettes and tobacco pouches had foreign labels and did not carry the correct warnings.

“Trading Standards is utilising intelligence from local businesses and members of the public to stem the supply of cheap and illicit tobacco in our fight to reduce smoking harm and protect the public health of communities within West Sussex.”

Debbie Kennard, Cabinet Member for Stronger, Safer Communities, said: “This case shows what a great job Trading Standards officers are doing in helping to tackle illegal business activity.

“The illegal tobacco trade is not safe for consumers and also harms legitimate businesses.”

Anyone with information about illicit tobacco can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or can report details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport

To find your nearest GP offering stop smoking support, visit www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk and search ‘Smoking > Services for West Sussex’.