THE former owner of a Burton store where more than 3,000 counterfeit cigarettes were uncovered during a series of raids has appeared in court.
Shahaab Qader admitted six charges relating to the sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco at the Queens Supermarket, in Borough Road, but pleaded not guilty to a further five at Burton Magistrates’ Court.
The 27-year-old, of King Street, Burton, accepted responsibility over the hoard of cigarettes which were unearthed at the store, which has now closed, in September last year.
Marcin Baskiewicz, 25, of Gordon Street, Burton, also pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the sale of illegal cigarettes.
He was working in the shop when trading standards officers carried out a second raid on October 17 after receiving a tip-off the banned products were still being sold.
The raid lifted the lid on the measures that were used at the store to conceal the illegal stash.
Police and trading standards officers from Staffordshire County Council uncovered more than 3,000 cigarettes at the shop thanks largely to the detective work of a sniffer dog, which helped officers locate the stash hidden inside the shop’s steel back door, in which a slide-out compartment had been fashioned.
Bosses surrendered its licence to sell cigarettes after East Staffordshire Borough Council ordered a review, with the shop then closing a short time later.
Lucy Daniels, prosecuting on behalf of Staffordshire trading standards, told magistrates: “On that day 1,840 cigarettes and 400 grams of hand-rolled tobacco of various brands was found in various locations of the supermarket.
“Some were in a holdall drawer at the side of the till and some were concealed in a steel door at the rear of the premises.”
A further 1,420 cigarettes were found during a third visit on October 23, though both Qader and Baskiewicz have denied all charges relating to that date.
The pair will face a trial over those charges at Burton Magistrates’ Court on July 9 and will be sentenced for the offences they have admitted following the outcome of that trial.