Shop owner sentenced for selling counterfeit cigarettes

A shopkeeper has been handed a suspended jail sentence after he was caught with 25,000 illicit cigarettes.

By Nick Frame
Monday, 24th January 2022, 3:17 pm

Kamyer Fazil Omari appeared in court for selling the illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from his business - Mini Market on Station Lane, Featherstone.

Omari pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 weeks' jail, suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work by magistrates in Kirklees.

He was also ordered to make an £800 cost contribution, due to his current financial circumstances and a £128 victim surcharge.

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Mini Market in Featherstone.

The premises was well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) having received complaints about the supply of illicit and duty-free tobacco.

An inspection was carried out at Mini Market in November 2020 and tobacco was seized from a concealment in the staff toilet area, within the business and the personal vehicle of the owner.

A total of 8,280 cigarettes and 4.3kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized from the shop and vehicle which was parked nearby.

A further seizure of 14,560 cigarettes and 4.25kg of hand rolling tobacco was made during a search of Omari’s home address on the same day.

A stash of illegal cigarettes found.

The seized illicit tobacco products were counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were non duty paid.

Warnings to stop the illegal activity were ignored complaints about the premises mounted up.

Another inspection was carried out and illicit tobacco was seized from within the business, stored under the counter.

A total of 2,560 cigarettes and 2.3kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized.

In January 2021, a packet of 20 Richmond cigarettes was purchased for £5.50.

This was sold for far below the recommended retail price of over £10, resulting in a loss of revenue for the government. The cigarettes have been confirmed to be counterfeit.

The total amount seized was over 25,000 cigarettes and more than 10kg of hand rolling tobacco. The loss of excise duty on the seized tobacco would have been around £11,000.

Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards manager said, “Illegal tobacco is often less than half the tax-paid price of legally sold tobacco, and this maintains smokers in their habit and encourages young people to start smoking.

"It is also linked to organised crime, human trafficking and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds. This sentence should be a warning to others who supply illegal tobacco. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”

Councillor Les Shaw, chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “Smoking rates in the UK are declining.

"Reducing the supply and demand of illegal tobacco is one important element of a comprehensive approach to tackling tobacco harm in communities.

"It is key to addressing smoking-related health inequalities and poverty, playing a key role in preventing young people from starting to smoke.”