Freeman Street shop owner pleads guilty after 14,000 illicit cigarettes seized

Freeman Street shop owner pleads guilty after 14,000 illicit cigarettes seized

The owner of the International Foods shop in Freeman Street has pleaded guilty to five counts of selling illicit tobacco.

Mohammed Ahmed Ismail, who lives in Leicester, appeared before Leicester Magistrates’ Court last month for sentencing regarding the offences.

In July 2019, a total of 13,960 cigarettes in 698 packets and 2.1 kilos in 42 pouches were seized by Trading Standards officers following a routine inspection.

The value of the illicit tobacco came to a total of £3,128. If genuine and legitimate, the tobacco would have carried a value of £7,862.

Among the products were 47 packets of counterfeit Richmond cigarettes and four pouches of counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco, leading to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

All of the products were seized under The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 for not being in plain packaging, and under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 for failing to display the prescribed health warnings that are required on cigarette and tobacco packets by law.

Mr Ismail was located and interviewed under caution. He admitted that the tobacco products were intended to be sold at low prices.

Last January, he appeared before Grimsby Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to all five offences. However, the matter was adjourned to Leicester Magistrates’ Court for sentencing last month.

This is because he was due to appear for similar offences committed at another business in Leicester.

After the case was finalised on the 12 March, Mr Ismail received a 10-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, 135 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay a £128 victim surcharge.

A contribution to costs of £1,000 is also to be distributed equally between the prosecuting local authorities.

He was ordered to forfeit all tobacco products to North East Lincolnshire Council for destruction.

Neil Clark, strategic lead for regulation and enforcement, said: “The council takes a proactive approach to combating the sale and distribution of illicit and counterfeit tobacco products throughout the borough.

“I hope this sends a clear message to anyone thinking of possessing and selling counterfeit tobacco that our officers will find you and pursue the matter, so don’t be tempted.”

Contact Gi Grimsby
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