St Leonards shopkeeper caught selling illegal tobacco products

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A shopkeeper from St Leonards has been handed a suspended jail term and left more than £3,000 out of pocket after being caught selling illegal tobacco products.

Arsalan Mohammadi was convicted at Hastings Magistrates’ Court following an investigation of his store – One Shop, in London Road – by officers from East Sussex Trading Standards.

Undercover operatives were sold Golden Virginia rolling tobacco not bearing the plain packaging required by law, according to East Sussex County Council, while officers also seized counterfeit Richmond cigarettes from the shop.

The defendant admitted two offences relating to trademark law and was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and handed a community order requiring him to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work.

The 38-year-old man also admitted three counts of breaching the law on packaging and was given a £1,000 fine for each count. He was also ordered to pay £450 court costs and a victim of surcharge of £115.

Richard Strawson, East Sussex County Council team manager for Trading Standards, said: “Our officers work tirelessly to reduce the supply of illegal tobacco through intelligence-led inspections and test purchases.

“Selling these kind of products brings organised crime into our communities, undermines efforts to discourage smoking and in particular encourages tobacco use among young people due to cheaper prices.

“I’d encourage anyone who knows of illegal tobacco sales to report it so that we can work together to tackle this issue and bring offenders to justice.”

Mohammadi, of London Road, St Leonards, was convicted of two counts of breaching the Trade Marks Act 1994 by having in his store counterfeit Richmond cigarettes on January 4 and 11 last year.

He also breached the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Product Regulations 2015 by selling illegally-packaged Golden Virginia tobacco on December 22, 2017 and January 4 and 11, 2018.

He was sentenced in a hearing at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on Friday, January 25, 2019. The court also ordered the illegal tobacco products be forfeited and destroyed.

People can report the selling of illegal tobacco to Trading Standards anonymously online at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk/ or by calling the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 6 999.

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