illegal tobacco
Representational Image

A shopkeeper in Belgrave was handed a 10-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers found illegal cigarettes and alcohol from his house during a raid in November 2016.

The raid at Sanmukh Prajapati’s house at Down Street, Belgrave, Leicester led to the seizure of 50,368 cigarettes, 63kg of hand rolling and chewing tobacco and 76 litres of alcohol. The contraband is estimated to be worth more than £33,000 in unpaid tax.

Prajapati claimed that the cigarettes were left by a friend and alcohol bottles were bought from a supermarket. A total of 158 not for UK sale bottles of whisky and vodka were found hidden in his house.

However, he admitted the offence of fraudulent evasion of excise duty at the Leicester Crown Court for which he was given the suspended jail sentence. The court also ordered him to carry out 180 hours unpaid work. Tobacco manufacturer JTI had assisted in the prosecution.

In an earlier investigation, HMRC officers confiscated illegal alcohol from Prajapati’s shop, Shreeji News and Off Licence in nearby Belgrave Road. He was served with an official warning then.