08:00 Friday 31 January 2014

Illegal cigarettes could be costly for Mr Cheap

Written byHELEN KREFT

22/05/13 Illegal Cigarettes - Mr Cheap, The Delph,, SwadlincoteCheap Cigarettes - Mr Cheap, The Delph, Swadlincote 22/05/13 Illegal Cigarettes - Mr Cheap, The Delph,, SwadlincoteCheap Cigarettes - Mr Cheap, The Delph, Swadlincote

A SHOP owner in South Derbyshire has admitted selling illicit cigarettes.

A tip-off from a customer led to a joint Trading Standards and police operation visiting Mr Cheap, on The Delph, Swadlincote on two occasions.

Both times they seized counterfeit Benson and Hedges cigarettes and Golden Virginia rolling tobacco.

The shop sold illegal cigarettes to the Mail’s undercover reporter last year.

Speaking through a Kurdish Iranian translator at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court yesterday Ridah Jaf admitted four counts of possessing illegal cigarettes and rolling tobacco.

The 41-year-old, of West Street, was told his case was “so serious” that he will be sent to Derby Crown Court for sentencing on March 6.

Billy Nanner, prosecuting on behalf of Derbyshire County Council trading standards, said officers swooped on the store on March 14 and April 5 last year.

He said: “Trading standards received a complaint that a shop called Mr Cheap was selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

“Officers along with police visited the store on two occasions where a quantity of hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes were seized along with a large amount of cash.

“Police arrested the seller, who is not Mr Jaf.”

The court was told that on March 14 12 packets of 20 Benson and Hedges Gold brand and five 50g packs of Golden Virginia rolling tobacco were seized.

And on the second visit, on April 5, a further 12 packets of 20 Benson and Hedges Gold brand as well as 19 50g packs of Golden Virginia were found on the premises and confiscated.

Magistrates were told that there will be “a significant amount of mitigation” when the case is sent to Derby Crown Court.

Mr Cheap’s shop assistant, Ali Salah, 25, of Rawdon Street, Derby was previously ordered to pay £760 in costs for selling illegal cigarettes.

Also this week, Osman Ahmed was jailed for two months after selling illegal cigarettes from The Dallow Street corner shop, Burton.

Speaking after the hearing a spokesman for JTI UK Ltd, which manufactiures Benson and Hedges cigarettes, said: “Illegal tobacco products that are ‘peddled’ within communities pose a risk to the future existence of the hard working convenience store owner and anyone who buys counterfeit cigarettes may be contributing to the decline of the high street.

“The £5 spent by a smoker on illegal cigarettes in Derbyshire today can potentially fund major global criminals and terrorist organisations tomorrow.

“JTI fully supports any efforts to rid our streets of illegal tobacco and stop criminals infiltrating our communities.”

A spokesman for Imperial Tobacco, which manufactures Golden Virginia, said: “We support any moves that will see those shop owners selling illicit cigarettes prosecuted.

“In some case we know that unscrupulous sellers will often bow to consumer pressure who might come into their shop and ask them for ‘the cheap cigarettes’.

“But this trade is hitting the genuine retailers hard as put pressure on the high street.”

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