A former shopkeeper from Northampton has been given a suspended prison sentence after he admitted selling illegal tobacco.
Farydoon Hassan, the former owner of A&K Stores in Wellingborough Road, Northampton, was given a six-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months after admitting supplying and possessing counterfeit and foreign-labelled tobacco.
Following a number of complaints to Trading Standards, a test purchaser visited A&K Stores in June last year and was able to buy 10 packets of foreign-labelled and non-duty paid cigarettes.
Trading Standards officers then returned to the shop in July with specialist tobacco detection dog Yo-Yo, who found 300 packets of cigarettes and 40 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco concealed in a purpose-built hide in the back yard of the shop.
It comes a week after another shopkeeper, Shamal Babakir of Mini Euro, also in Wellingborough Road, was given a suspended sentence for the same offence.
In this case, sniffer dog Yo-Yo found 594 packets of illegal cigarettes and 67 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco hidden behind a specially-constructed mirror in the rear of the shop during a raid last year.
Since last April, Trading Standards has prosecuted five shop owners and cautioned 12 other traders. The team has also assisted partner agencies in a further three cases.
Hassan, 24, who was sentenced at Northampton Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Monday), was also ordered to serve 120 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £1,105.29 plus a victim surcharge of £80.
Councillor André González de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “Yet again our Trading Standards officers have demonstrated that they will take action against anyone suspected of flouting the law by selling illegal tobacco.
“Their sellers are also stealing from the taxpayer by avoiding paying duty and undermining legitimate traders making an honest living.
“I would urge anyone who is offered foreign-labelled cigarettes or tobacco for sale in suspicious circumstances to report it to us by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Hassan, who had previously been warned about selling counterfeit and foreign-labelled tobacco, is no longer the owner of A&K Stores, having sold the business in January this year.