Tobacco taskforce jails Mansfield shopkeeper

Church Street, Mansfield (Image: Google).

Church Street, Mansfield (Image: Google).

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A Mansfield shopkeeper has been jailed for ten weeks for the sale of illicit tobacco.

Shopkeeper Bistun Ali has been jailed for ten weeks for the sale of illicit tobacco in Mansfield, following an investigation by Nottinghamshire County Council's trading standards office.

The council said: "It is the latest success for Nottinghamshire County Council’s illicit tobacco taskforce in the war against this type of activity.

Ali yesterday admitted 14 different counts of possessing goods with a false trademark for sale or hire, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday, March 31).

The 27-year-old, from Rosehill Street, Derby, had initially been visited by Nottinghamshire County Council’s trading standards officers in March last year – just two weeks after he said he had taken on the running of the shop, Sunstar Mini Market, in Church Street, Mansfield.

He was at the premises at the time and also rented the flat above the shop. It was in the flat that trading standards officers found 140 packets of illicit tobacco and 80 pouches of hand rolling tobacco – along with a sales list.

Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, Committee Chairman for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “This was the first of a number of visits made to the premises by our officers over the following six months, and a substantial amount of illicit tobacco and cigarettes were recovered over this time. We are delighted by the result in court this week which sends another reminder out that we will do all we can to protect our local communities from this sort of crime.”

On four further occasions between March and October last year, a total of 1,144 packet of cigarettes and 155 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were seized by county council trading standards officers. A final visit to the shop on 2 November 2015 resulted in further illicit cigarettes being recovered. As lease holder Mr Ali was still responsible for these items seized.

Samples of the cigarettes and tobacco seized from all five visits have been confirmed by brand holders as being counterfeit.

Genuine cigarettes have a safety feature which means they extinguish if they are left unattended; many counterfeit cigarettes often do not have this feature. Nationally the cost of smoking related house fires is estimated at £507 million per year.

Over the last two years, since April 2014, Nottinghamshire County Council's illicit tobacco taskforce, which has involved colleagues from Trading Standards and Public Health, with support from Nottinghamshire Police, has seized more than 715,000 cigarettes and 162kg handrolled tobacco from operations across the county, with a combined value of £380,000.