A shopkeeper who dealt in illegal tobacco and cigarettes hidden behind a false cupboard wall has been successfully prosecuted following a raid by Cheshire East Council.
Sniffer dogs detected the find in the Yum Yum sweet shop in Chestergate, Macclesfield, run by Nadaz Ahmed, of Church Street, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts involving the sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes.
He was sentenced at Chester Crown Court to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, plus 200 hours of unpaid work following a successful prosecution by the council’s trading standards team. Ahmed was also ordered to undergo rehabilitation through the probation service.
The charges included fraudulent trading of trade mark and tobacco products over a 12-month period.
Ahmed received a stern warning from the judge that he was lucky not to be sent to prison. The court heard that he continued to sell counterfeit or illegal cigarettes and rolling tobacco despite previous convictions and warnings from Cheshire East Council’s trading standards officers.
Appearing before His Honour Judge Steven Everett at Chester on 9 April, Ahmed was told that had he not pleaded guilty at an earlier magistrates’ court hearing, he might have faced a much tougher sentence.
Ahmed sold up to 12 different brands of illegal cigarettes for up to £4 per packet and, when challenged by officers, he gave a false name. But the council’s team later found his passport, which proved he was also the shop owner.
Although trading as a sweet shop, the business carried little confectionery and during a raid sniffer dogs found the stash of illicit products behind a false cupboard wall.
Frank Jordan, Cheshire East Council executive director of place, said: “The sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco is to be condemned and the council wishes to send out a message that our trading standards team will pursue action where there is evidence of this practice taking place on our streets.
“What is disturbing about this case is that these goods were being sold from premises purporting to be a sweet shop.
“The sale of cheap, illegal tobacco by rogue traders in shops, private homes and through social media is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders.
“There is also a financial fraud on the government and taxpayer and, therefore, it is right that the council should take action to prevent this sort of crime.”