Former Cowley shop worker guilty of illegal tobacco supply

A former shop owner who admitted to selling smuggled cigarettes at pocket-money prices on three separate occasions has pleaded guilty following a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards.

On Monday 15 July, Amar Hassan, a former owner of Matean Market, 128 Hollow Way, Cowley admitted to six offences at Oxford Magistrates’ Court.

The ready availability of cheap, illicit tobacco can encourage smokers to smoke more or undermine their efforts to quit. Treating smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS over £2 billion annually and cigarettes produced illicitly have been implicated in fatal house fires as they are unlikely to comply with fire safety regulations.

The Court heard that on the 17 December 2017, Trading Standards made a test purchase of Pect cigarettes (see photo) for £4 from Matean Market, the cigarettes being retrieved from under the counter.

The officer returned to the shop on the 25 February 2018 and another test purchase was made, this time another packet of Pect was sold for £4 along with a sleeve containing 200 L & M cigarettes, which were sold for £40.

On the 20 May 2018, an undercover officer was able to buy another sleeve of 200 L & M cigarettes, this time being charged £35.

Pect and L & M cigarettes have no legal market in the UK. On all three occasions the seller was Amar Hassan.

Sales assistant, Hassan, 44, of Leander Way, Oxford admitted in interview that he had supplied the dodgy cigarettes on each occasion. He knew it was illegal to do so due to a previous warning he had received from HM Revenue & Customs but explained that it was now not his shop and he was just working there.

Hassan was ordered to pay a £600 fine with £100 costs and £30 Court surcharge.

County Councillor Judith Heathcoat said: “This is one of several prosecutions that have either already gone through the courts or will be heard in the coming months. Our message is that peddling counterfeit or smuggled tobacco will not be tolerated and that includes anyone involved in selling them, not just shop owners”.

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