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    Hastings C-store retailer goes untraceable after fined for selling toxic vodka

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    A shop owner has gone untraceable after he was convicted of selling illegal tobacco and vodka “injurious to health”.

    According to local reports, retailer Taha Khelan in Eastbourne was ordered to pay £5,000 at crown court on July 28. He was also told to pay full prosecution costs of £7,620.86 and a victim surcharge of £181 within six months or he will face six months behind bars.

    The offences, which took place in 2021 and 2022, were related to illegal tobacco and vodka offered for sale at Khelani’s shop, Delboys on Castle Street in Hastings, and illegal tobacco found in his car.

    In sentencing Khelani, who did not attend the hearing, His Honour Justice Chapple said, “There are sentencing guidelines for the trade mark and food safety offences. They are the most serious as they deal with the risk to public health and the products could put the public at risk.

    “There was evidence that the two bottles of Krackoff [vodka] were injurious to health. Khelani pleaded not guilty to nearly all the offences so he gets no credit.”

    HHJ Huseyin also made a forfeiture and destruction order for all the tobacco and alcohol seized.

    Khelani breached bail by not attending the sentencing hearing. He is believed to have left the country and in Germany where he has citizenship, reports stated.

    In October last year, Khelani was found guilty of four counts of the unauthorised use of a trademark, one count of placing unsafe food on the market, one count of falsely advertising vodka and two counts of supplying tobacco in incorrect packaging. He also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Trademark Act and one count of breaching the Standardised Packaging Regulations.

    The tobacco seized included both counterfeit products, which cannot be sold anywhere, and other tobacco in non-standard packaging which cannot be sold in the UK as it lacks the correct packaging and health warnings. The illegal tobacco, if genuine, had a retail value of over £31,000.

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