A WORTHING shop owner who was found with hundreds of packets of illicit cigarettes that he was selling through his business has been given a suspended jail sentence following a seizure by West Sussex County Council Trading Standards.
Aram Ramadan, 32, was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay a £100 fine for selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco worth £11,000 in the Lavant Store, in Montague Street, Worthing.
Following his arrest, Ramadan appeared at Crawley Magistrates court on Friday and pleaded guilty to five offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
Following previous seizures of foreign labelled cigarettes and tobacco from Ramadan’s store, West Sussex Trading Standards officers returned to the shop in February 2014 with a trained sniffer dog after receiving information that counterfeit goods were being sold once more.
After searching the store, illicit tobacco and cigarettes were found in a bin behind the counter. Large amounts of foreign labelled cigarettes and tobacco were also discovered in boxes and suitcases in Ramadan’s flat and vehicle.
In total, 14,300 cigarettes and 13.55 kg of tobacco were seized, worth approximately just under £11,000.
Although Ramadan was released on bail, his failure to attend a plea hearing at Worthing Magistrates Court last August meant a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Along with his sentence, Ramadan was also ordered to pay a contribution of £2,000 towards the prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £80.
David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for residents services with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “We are continuing to stress the dangers of using cheap and illicit tobacco.
“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.
“This sentence sends a clear message to businesses that if illegal cigarettes and tobacco is found, it will be seized, destroyed and consequently those who supply it will be prosecuted.”
Anyone who is concerned about the sale of counterfeit goods or possible scam is asked to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for advice on 03454 04 05 06.
Incidents can be reported direct to West Sussex Trading Standards at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport