Oldham shopkeeper fined over huge haul of illegal tobacco

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A Oldham shopkeeper has been fined after illegal tobacco was found stashed behind the counter, hidden in a modified jacket, and stuffed in a hold-all in the basement.

According to recent local reports, Sardar Mohammed, who runs Timisoara convenience store on Ashton Road, Oldham, was hauled before Tameside Magistrates’ Court earlier this month after over 22,500 cigarettes were seized from his store in September 2020.

Oldham Council raided the shop with officers from Trading Standards and a trained sniffer dog after members of the public alerted them to illicit tobacco being sold on the premises.

During the raid, about 22,557 cigarettes and 100g of rolling tobacco were seized from a number of places in the shop, including a concealment behind the counter, an adapted jacket and a holdall in the basement.

Retailer Mohammed has pleaded guilty to offences under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and an offence under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

He was handed an 18 month community order, which required him to complete 30 rehabilitation activity days and carry out 180 hours of unpaid work. Mohammed has also been ordered to pay £3,450 of fines and costs, alongside a £95 victim surcharge.

“Thanks to good work by our Trading Standards staff, and tip offs from residents, a large haul of illegal cigarettes has been seized. Illegal tobacco makes it easier for children and young people to buy cigarettes and get hooked on smoking,” reports quoted Coun Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, as saying.