Mansfield man jailed for selling illegal cigarettes

Mansfield Magistrates Court.
Mansfield Magistrates Court.

Trading Standards team have welcomed a court ruling to jail a man who intended to supply dangerous illicit cigarettes.

Maher Ali (39) from Thoresby Street, Mansfield, admitted two charges after being prosecuted by Nottinghamshire County Council’s trading standards team following a visit by officers to a shop in Mansfield earlier this year.

On Thursday Ali was sentenced to 28 days custody plus a further seven days custody to be served consecutively when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Ali admitted a charge of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale or hire after Trading Standards officers visited the European Food Store shop in Mansfield in 2014.

He admitted a further charge of possessing goods with intention to supply 400 Pect cigarettes classed as dangerous products under the General Products Safety Regulations 2005 after a separate visit this year. Following tests, it was considered the second batch of cigarettes would fail British Safety standards as they posed a risk of fire by not being able to self-extinguish after being lit.

Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, committee chairman for community safety, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are very pleased with this outcome. The court’s decision to send this person to jail sends out a powerful message we hope will deter others as we continue to address the issue of counterfeit and dangerous tobacco within our communities.”

The court heard trading standards officers visited the shop in Mansfield on 23rd April, 2014 to inspect the premises and found some cigarettes behind the counter. Mr Ali was stopped trying to leave with a large sack containing 197 packs of cigarettes and 33 pouches of tobacco, later found to be counterfeit following tests.

Mr Ali was interviewed at the time and said he worked in the shop, was living in Leeds and he was not trying to leave with the cigarettes but intending to give them to the officers. Officers tried to locate Mr Ali over the following 12 months but were unable to do so.

On the 20th March, officers attended the European Food Store again, and introduced themselves to the man behind the till who then locked the door of the shop to prevent customers from entering during the inspection. Whilst the officers were in the shop Mr Ali entered using a key, the person behind the till tried to usher Mr Ali out of the shop. Mr Ali was carrying a bag containing 30 packs of illicit cigarettes which were deemed unsafe following tests.

The county council’s trading standards team recently announced it is continuing to working in partnership with its public health team in cracking down on the trade of illegal tobacco in the county.

Working with intelligence gathered from the public, the task force has seized £100,000 worth of illegal tobacco from around 20 different shops across Nottinghamshire that regularly sell illegal tobacco as well as those selling from their own homes in the last 12 months alone.