A Manchester retailer has given suspended jail sentence after a sniffer dog’s diligent nose traced a hidden stash of more than 5,000 illegal cigarettes at his store.
Bertie, a tobacco detection dog, led Trading Standards officers to an apparently empty back stock room of Euro Market in Moston Lane during an inspection in May last year.
Further examination of a cupboard revealed that it had a false back, with additional illegal tobacco found inside.
In total, officers seized 750g of rolling tobacco, and 5,057 cigarettes, which were destroyed later.
The owner of the shop, Marcin Wenderski, 40, of Greenroyd Avenue, Bolton, pleaded guilty to charges of trademark and tobacco regulation offences at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 18 February.
The court sentenced Wenderski to eight weeks in prison, suspended for one year. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, to be carried out within the next 12 months, and pay costs of £1,130 and a victim surcharge of £115.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods at Manchester City Council, said: “Smoking is lethal, and continued easy access to illegal tobacco does nothing but shorten the lives of Mancunians and put money in the hands of criminals.
“The Keep It Out campaign has been invaluable in raising awareness of the dangers associated with illegal tobacco, but what this prosecution shows is that it pays off for us to always be vigilant. Credit is due to our Trading Standards officers and legal team for securing this successful conviction.”