Two shop workers have been given prison sentences totalling 20 months for the sale of illicit tobacco at Nottingham Crown Court after a CCTV surveillance operation carried out by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards team.
Fakher Fathulah, 42 of Abingdon Street, Derby, Marwan Shaban, 40 of Market Place, Mansfield Woodhouse, and Nabaz Ahmadi, 21 of Warner Street, Derby, all pleaded guilty to one offence against the use of a trade mark and one offence for possessing dangerous goods for supply.
Fatulah was sentenced to 11 months in prison, Shaban was sentenced to six months in prison and Ahmadi was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work over a twelve-month period.
The offenders worked at Kubus Mini Market on Toothill Lane in Mansfield and existing CCTV managed by Mansfield District Council captured the three bringing illicit tobacco goods from a car outside the shop when customers requested the products.
The footage was captured during September 2016 and Trading Standards officers raided the premises on 16 September which led to the seizure of 515 packets of illicit cigarettes and 20 pouches of counterfeit tobacco in a car outside the shop.
The court heard that the operation amassed a £21,000-£25,000 profit over three weeks during the surveillance.
Fathlulah’s home was also raided and five cardboard boxes of illicit cigarettes were seized.
The majority of seized cigarettes were either counterfeit or failed the safety tests, which meant they did not self-extinguish when left unattended.
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, Vice-Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee, said: “This illicit tobacco operation was blatant with the three offenders regularly fetching illicit cigarettes from a car right under the gaze of a public CCTV camera.
“I hope this case shows we will explore all measures to catch shopkeepers in the act of selling illicit cigarettes, which are dangerous and discourage smokers from giving up due to their cheap pricing.”
Residents with information on the sale of counterfeit cigarettes should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
The County Council provides services for people to quit smoking through the specialist service Solutions4Health which is available by calling 0800 2465343 or text ‘QUIT’ to 66777.