Kidlington supermarket owners convicted of selling illegal tobacco

An owner and former owner of Wisla Supermarket (12 The Parade), Kidlington, pleaded guilty to possession of illegal and smuggled tobacco, during a hearing at Oxford Magistrates Court on 21 August.

Mr Erfan Gharib was fined £2,920, including costs and victim surcharge, for seven offences under the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979, the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Mr Soran Salih pleaded guilty to 11 offences under the same legislation and was fined £4,920, including costs and a victim surcharge.

The case was brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team following undercover test purchasing of smuggled tobacco.

Soran Salih, the then owner of Wisla Supermarket, sold a smuggled pack of Marlboro Touch cigarettes to an undercover officer working for Trading Standards on 17 December 2017.

The undercover officer returned to Wisla Supermarket on 25 February and this time was sold a smuggled pack of Marlboro Gold cigarettes, again by Mr Salih.

Following this sale, the premises were raided by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Officers, assisted by a dog team from BWY Canine Ltd and an officer from Thames Valley Police. During the search 165 packets of smuggled cigarettes were discovered around the till point and on top of a fridge.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, the business had been sold by Soran Salih to his former employee Erfan Gharib. Mr Gharib was charged as under the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979 the owner of a business “commits an offence if he suffers the premises to be used for the sale of unmarked products.”

Soran Salih and Erfan Gharib had previously been prosecuted by Oxfordshire Trading Standards for the sale of cigarettes to an underaged test-purchaser in 2017, again at Wisla Supermarket.

Smuggled cigarettes and counterfeit vodka were also seized during a joint operation by HMRC and Trading Standards’ officers from Soran Salih’s previous premises, Mini Market, Cowley Road, in 2014

Richard Webb, Head of Community Protection Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “These convictions show that, as a community, we will act to stop the supply of illegal tobacco, protect the health of Oxfordshire residents and ensure that taxpayers do not have to pick up the bill for criminal behaviour

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to contact our hotline 0300 999 6 999 or report it anonymously via our website www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk