Former Banbury shop owner guilty of illegal tobacco wrongdoing
Photo: Jody Kerman, leading Oxfordshire's fight against smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes.
A shop owner who admitted to purchasing smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes has pleaded guilty following a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards.
Alan Ali Mohammed – the former Director of Tainal Limited, which traded as International Supermarket, 33-34 High Street, Banbury – admitted to nine offences at Oxford Magistrates’ Court. The case was adjourned until 17 June when Mr Mohammed will appear before Oxford Crown Court for sentencing.
The Court heard that on 23 October 2017, Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Officers inspected the store with a tobacco detection dog. 4,240 illegal cigarettes were discovered in a black holdall, found on the top of a unit in the rear storeroom. The cigarettes consisted of seven different brands, labelled in three different languages. Whilst none of the cigarettes had been UK duty paid, Mayfair cigarettes were subsequently determined to be counterfeit.
On 17 December 2017, Trading Standards made a test purchase of L & M Link cigarettes for £6 from International Supermarket, the cigarettes being retrieved from under the counter. The officer returned to the premises a short time later and made a further test purchase of three packets of L & M Link for £18.
On the 24 February 2018, another test purchase was made for a pack of Kent cigarettes, which were sold to an officer for £6.
Mohammed, 33, of Western Crescent in Banbury, said in interview that he bought a bag of cigarettes for £300 from an Eastern European man who he had never met before. He said that he did not read the labels, he did not count the packets and did not question their origin. He claimed he intended to sell the cigarettes to his staff for £5-£6 each. He put the bag on the shelf in his shop and forgot about them.
Jody Kerman (pictured), Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Operations Manager, said: “We are very concerned about the sale of cheap, illegal tobacco and are working very hard to reduce its availability in Oxfordshire”.
Tobacco fraud is reported to cost the UK around £2.5 billion a year whilst treating smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS over £2 billion annually.
Retailers selling illegal tobacco could lose their alcohol licence, face unlimited fines and be jailed for up to 10 years.
Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco should contact 0300 999 6 999 or report it anonymously via the website www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk
International Supermarket continues to trade at High Street, Banbury under new ownership.