A NEWSAGENT who sold counterfeit and illegal cigarettes which had no health warnings has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Alan Bakir, aged 36, of Aigburth Road was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates Court to four weeks prison suspended for 12 months after he admitted the offences.
The court was told that ,following a tip-off officers from the Liverpool Trading Standards’ Alcohol and Tobacco Unit visited the premises of S A Mohamed ,newsagents and general store in Aigburth Road. They were accompanied by Wag Tails UK a company using trained dogs to sniff out tobacco.
Bakir, the shop owner, was serving behind the counter. He told the officers there was no illegal tobacco on the premises. However, a sniffer dog became interested in a health lottery stand in a store room
When an officer examined the stand she found a hole had been cut out and then concealed with a piece of paper. In the stand she found 18 packets of Marlborough Gold cigarettes, 11 packets of Master cigarettes, eight packets of Lambert and Butler cigarettes ,seven 50g pouches of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco and 90 50g pouches of Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco.
None of the tobacco bore the required health warnings. The Golden Virginia pouches were later examined by the brand holder’s representative and found to be counterfeit.
The magistrates said that the threshold for custody had been crossed because of the concealment of the illegal tobacco and because of Bakir’s previous convictions for the same type of offence but were suspending the sentence because of his early guilty plea. They awarded costs £1,485.36 and ordered the goods to be forfeited for destruction.
Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said “The sale of illegal tobacco not only undermines legitimate business in this city but jeopardizes the health of those who smoke them. Illegal cigarettes have been found to contain rat droppings and poison from the sweepings of the factories where they have been made. This case sends out a tough message to those who are involved in this type of illegal trade”.