Castleford booze store boss gives up licence after 6,000 illicit cigarettes found in toilet

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco pouches were found stashed in a concealed compartment above a sink in the shop's backroom toilet.
Illegal cigarettes and tobacco pouches were found stashed in a concealed compartment above a sink in the shop's backroom toilet.

The manager of a Castleford store accused of selling illegal cigarettes, which were found stashed in a backroom toilet, has surrendered his licence.

A hearing on Tuesday revealed that Mahdi Aziz, who ran Booze Station on Albion Street in the town, had given up his right to run the premises on May 1.

It follows the discovery of 6,100 illicit cigarettes and 30 pouches of tobacco in a concealed compartment behind a tiled wall above a sink at the shop in March.

Police had been alerted to issues at the premises after they observed customers asking specifically for "cheap cigs" during routine visits.

Papers released ahead of Tuesday's hearing said that, "On more than one occasion when police and licensing officers attended, it was noted that a routine action was for a male to walk to the front entrance of the store, where the person was seen to be preventing customers from entering the premises."

Mr Aziz did not attend the hearing, where a panel of three councillors was told that another party may apply to run Booze Station within 28 days.

Proceedings were adjourned until next month, in case another individual does try to take the premises on. If that happens, the local authority will decide whether or not the store can remain open.

Legal adviser Paul Jaques said: "There was an application that was submitted by the police for a review of a premises licence that was in existence at the time.

"However, on May 1 the licence surrendered to officers by the licence holder.

"The effect of that means the licence has now lapsed, and so technically there's nothing to review today because the licence does not exist.

"However, that licence could be resurrected if an application is made to seek to transfer it somebody else within 28 days."

Committee chairman, Councillor Martyn Johnson suggested the store's managers had "seen the error of their ways", before adding: "Who knows what will happen over the next 28 days?"

A police investigation into the alleged activities at the store continues.

Local Democracy Reporting Service