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    Bristol retailer convicted after £28,000-worth illegal tobacco raid

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    A c-store keeper in Bristol has been sentenced to a two-year community order and told to pay £4,376 after police and trading standards officers seized £28,000-worth of illegal tobacco hidden behind a false wall in the premise.

    According to local reports, shopkeeper Karwan Asad, who ran Church Road Mini Mart in Redfield, was sentenced to a two-year community order at Bristol Crown Court, including 200 hours of unpaid work, and told to pay £4,376.40 costs and a victim surcharge after pleading guilty to eight offences.

    A city council licensing sub-committee revoked his alcohol sales licence at a review hearing two days later. Trading standards and police found illegal cigarettes and tobacco during three inspections over the past two years.

    Avon & Somerset Constabulary licensing officer Louise Mowbray told the licensing sub-committee that a child was sent into the shop and was sold a vape during the latest joint operation on Feb 22. She said officers then went in and seized illegal tobacco stashed in three holdalls.

    Mowbray told the hearing, “When we went in they were unable to operate the CCTV, had no age verification policy, no Challenge 25, so we fully support trading standards in asking for the revocation of the premises licence. There has been a continued breach of the licence related to illicit tobacco and vapes.”

    Announcing the decision to revoke the alcohol licence, sub-committee chairman Cllr Richard Eddy (Conservative, Bishopsworth) said, “This is one of the most straightforward cases I’ve dealt with. The panel was unanimous.

    “There was clear evidence, confirmed by the courts, of the sale of illegal vapes and illegal tobacco and underage sales that were clearly in breach of their premises licence, so we have no hesitation in acting to revoke that.”

    The council prosecuted Asad who was sentenced two days earlier at crown court following guilty pleas at Bristol Magistrates Court on March 18. He did not attend the sub-committee hearing. 

    Bristol City Council growth and regeneration executive director John Smith said afterward, “Illegal and counterfeit tobacco damages communities and harms legitimate businesses.

    “Our officers work hard, in collaboration with Avon & Somerset Police, to combat the sale of all illicit goods, especially tobacco which can be extremely harmful. Selling illicit tobacco evades tax and is unfair to honest traders. I hope that this sentencing acts as a warning to others selling such products that we take the issue seriously and will take action against traders who knowingly sell it.”

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