Break-in investigation led police to fake cigarettes at shop

NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE -- trading standards officer Paul Gretton with some of the fake cigarettes that have been seized over the past year.
NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE -- trading standards officer Paul Gretton with some of the fake cigarettes that have been seized over the past year.
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When police were called to a shop in Stanton Hill to investigate an attempted break-in, they found hundreds of fake cigarettes.

Now the shopkeeper, 27-year-old Reben Mohammed, has been given a suspended prison-sentence after appearing at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.

Mohammed, who lived at the shop on High Street, pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing illegal, counterfeit cigarettes, with a view to selling them. He was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community work. He was also told to pay £240 court costs.

The court was told that Mohammed was rumbled earlier this year when police officers alerted Nottinghamshire County Council’s trading standards team, who recovered 1,080 cigarettes at the shop. Also found was a small amount of tobacco, which was genuine but had the duty evaded.

During interview, he admitted being the owner of the shop, which has since closed, and selling these cigarettes, but promised to stop immediately.

However, when the trading standards team made a second visit, a search found 540 cigarettes and 150g of tobacco, including cigarettes that would not self-extinguish and were, therefore, unsafe and illegal. When questioned, Mohammed said he was planning to return the cigarettes to the man who had supplied him.

In court, he also admitted two charges of possessing for supply cigarettes that were dangerous, and two charges of failing to comply with safety regulations under the Consumer Protection Act.

Over the last year, trading standards officers in the county have now seized £100,000 worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco from 20 shops.

AFTER the prosecution of Reben Mohammed, Nottinghamshire County Council reiterated its determination to “keep up our war on illegal tobacco”.

Councillor Glenn Gilfoyle, chairman for community safety, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this court case. It is another good result. This is a very important area of our work.

“Genuine cigarettes have a safety feature which means they extinguish if left unattended. Counterfeit cigarettes do not. Smoking-related house-fires cost the country an estimated £507 million per year.”