‘I hold my hands up.’ Store owner caught on his own CCTV cameras selling illegal tobacco to customers

A convenience store owner has lost license after being caught on camera selling illicit tobacco to his customers.
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Police used CCTV footage seized from the shop as evidence at a hearing where councillors revoked the licence for Continental Food Store.

Images showed Dino Kaddir Rahimi taking illegal products from a ‘blind spot’ under the shop counter before handing them to customers.

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A licensing sub-committee was shown a series of clips from the Westgate store taken in December and November last year.

Continental Food Stores, on Westgate in WakefieldContinental Food Stores, on Westgate in Wakefield
Continental Food Stores, on Westgate in Wakefield

The evidence was seized after police and Trading Standards officers found 1,720 illegal cigarettes when they searched the off-licence on December 4.

A total of 86 illegal packs of Marlborough, L&M Blues, Richmond Blues and NZ Gold were found.

Vapes were also being sold which were well above the legal nicotine limit.

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After being shown the images, Mr Rahimi told the committee: “I’m responsible for what I have done. I hold my hands up and I say sorry.”

Mr Rahimi said he became involved in the sale of the illegal products months before being caught.

He said he had previously ran the store for four more than years without being in trouble.

He added: “It is what it is. Whatever I have done is illegal and I hold my hands up.

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“In many years we have never had problems with police or anything.

“We do not sell to under-age customers. We try very hard not to sell alcohol to

drunken people.”

Mr Rahimi attended the hearing without legal representation.

Council legal officer Paul Jaques asked: “You admit stocking illegal tobacco on those clips that we have seen?”

Mr Rahimi replied: “Yes.”

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Mr Jacques then asked “Do you wish to say anything to the committee about how those products are brought into your shop?”

Mr Rahimi said the illegal items had been brought to him by a “friend” but could not reveal who the main distributor was.

He said: “I can’t say. There is a bigger person, who is way bigger.”

PC Toby Warden said the store previously had its licence suspended in 2019 when it had a different owner.

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He said authorities had repeatedly made efforts to help the store comply with licensing conditions.

Paul Dean, a licensing enforcement officer for Wakefield Council, said: “The evidence we have today suggests that regardless of whoever has control of this store the same issues keep coming back.”

Chris Wathen, a council public health officer, said: “Illegal tobacco makes it easy for children to start smoking and enabling them to become addicted at a young age.

“It makes it easy for children to get hold of cigarettes at pocket money prices.”

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Announcing the decision to revoke the licence, the panel described Mr Rahimi’s actions as “serious and irresponsible.”

They said: “Mr Rahimi was present during a number of CCTV clips which demonstrate that he was in control of the activities taking place.

“Despite the explanations and admissions by Mr Rahimi, it is the committee’s view that such failures are not acceptable.

“Such criminality clearly undermines the licensing objectives.”