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Newsagent from Shipley in court over fake cigarettes
A Bradford newsagent caught selling counterfeit tobacco at his city centre store for the second time in less than than two years has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Barzan Mahmad Aziz, 27, of Southcliffe Drive, Shipley, pleaded guilty to a series of charges related to illegal tobacco products found by Trading Standards officers during a series of test purchase operations at Ivegate News in Ivegate.
Tom Stephens, prosecuting for Trading Standards, said officers carried out test purchase operations in September last year and February this year and were sold counterfeit tobacco on both occasions.
“Following the first test purchase, a joint operation was held by West Yorkshire Police and Trading Standards on November 19 last year,” he said.
“Cigarettes and tobacco were found in a void in the store and seized. All were counterfeit or did not have the required health warnings.”
The court heard Aziz had a previous conviction for similar offences after illicit tobacco and cigarettes were found during raids at the store in 2011.
When arrested, he apologised for continuing to sell illegal cigarettes and said he needed to do it to make enough money to pay the rent on his shop.
He admitted seven charges relating to the possession of counterfeit tobacco products, five relating to products not carrying statutory health warnings and one charge of not displaying a sign stating that tobacco could not be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
Tahir Ayub, mitigating, said Aziz sold the products because he had not been making enough money to keep his business going.
He said: “It was something he said he felt forced into because of the demands of the customers that would come through his door.
“It was those cigarettes they wanted. If he didn’t have the stock they would refuse to buy them and he felt he was losing customers.”
Magistrates handed Aziz a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, with 150 hours of unpaid work and £1,094 costs. After the hearing, a Trading Standards spokesman said: “Mr Aziz has some history in relation to the sale of illegal tobacco and has in fact previously been prosecuted for similar offences.
“West Yorkshire Trading Standards take a very hard line on those caught selling illegal products, the sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes not only represent millions of pounds in lost revenue to the taxpayer but also creates a further barrier for those people who are trying to improve their health by stopping smoking.”