400 laughing gas canisters seized at Bolton shop

Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter

Empty nitrous bottles (Representational Image, Photo: iStock)

A convenience store and post office where nearly 400 nitrous oxide canisters were found sold illegal cigarettes, a licensing hearing was told.

The best-one shop at 836-838 Bury Road, Breightmet, was visited by officers from Bolton trading standards on December 10 last year.

When they went behind the counter they found 18 packets of Amber Leaf rolling tobacco and 20 packets of Richmond cigarettes.

Another 20 packets of branded cigarettes were found elsewhere in the shop.

A report to councillors said: “The tobacco products were seized as some were not in plain packaging and didn’t have the warnings required by legislation.

“It would have been very apparent to someone on the business of selling tobacco that the products were not for legal sale.

“In addition to the illicit tobacco the search team discovered 15 boxes containing 375 cylinder of nitrous oxide gas.

“They were found in two separate areas, behind the counter and in a rear storeroom alongside a large quantity of balloons.

“When asked what the purpose of the gas was the shop worker could not provide a legitimate answer.”

Trading standards applied for a review of the premises licence at the shop, which is held by Nagesh Ram Modhvadia.

At the licensing hearing, which will decide on whether to revoke the premises licence, Modhvadia was represented by solicitor Victoria Cartmel.

She said he has run the shop and post office for 10 years without issue and was a ‘man of good character’.

She said he was an active part of the Breightmet community and is an NHS first responder.

She added: “At the time my client had a new baby so was away from the premises more than he would be usually.

“The tobacco was bought from another source and wasn’t mixed in with the other tobacco.

“We maintain that all the other tobacco apart from the Richmond cigarettes and the Amber leaf was purchased from legitimate suppliers.”

She said that her client stocked the nitrous oxide to sell to a stallholder at Bolton Market, where it was used legitimately for catering purposes.

She said that he now that he realised that the nitrous oxide could be used illegitimately and did not sell it.

Among the evidence submitted to the panel was intelligence received to the police about the shop.

PC Ben Brookfield said that among the intelligence was that the shop supplied ‘under the counter cigarettes, laughing gas canisters and alcohol to youths’ and that ‘they are selling fake Richmond cigarettes for £5 a pack’.

The licensing panel said they would write to Modhvadia with the result of their review and it will then be published publicly.