A BRADFORD shopkeeper has been prosecuted for a second time for selling illegal cigarettes and counterfeit tobacco.

Hemen Ahmed Hussain, of Chislehurst Place, Little Horton, was given a 150-hour community order by magistrates for possessing 2,500 cigarettes and 3.2kg of hand-rolling tobacco with an intent to supply.

The goods were seized by officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS) following a visit to Baz's off-licence in Southfield Lane, Little Horton, in September last year.

Hussain had previously served a 60-hour community order and paid costs of over £1,000 when more than 5,000 illegal cigarettes and 84 pouches of tobacco were seized from the same premises earlier in 2014, when it was then trading as Hajis European Food Store.

Following a complaint about sales to underage customers, WYTS officers visited the off-licence to carry out test purchases of the goods in question.

They were subsequently sold products that failed to display statutory health warnings and contained fake trademarks.

Based on their findings, officers then returned to the shop to carry out an official inspection, which resulted in the seizure of illegal and counterfeit goods found in a box in the storeroom of the shop.

Hussain was summoned to appear in court to answer ten charges brought by WYTS, but failed to attend the hearing, leading to a warrant being issued for his arrest.

The warrant was executed three days later, and aside from the community order, Hussain was ordered to pay £500 towards costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the case, councillor Val Slater, chairman of the WYTS committee said: "Illegal tobacco is still a big problem, especially as traders are selling to underage children.

"Illicit tobacco also brings crime to local communities, and protecting our communities is of the utmost importance.

"We take these matters very seriously and welcome the enforcement action taking place to tackle this issue."

David Lodge, head of WYTS, added said: "We are continuously working hard to tackle the trade of illicit tobacco and to ensure that each complaint we receive is investigated.

"I thank the public for bringing traders of illegal tobacco to our attention, and encourage them to continue doing so."

Since April 2014, WYTS has seized almost 700,000 cigarettes and 300kg of hand-rolling tobacco from retailers across the county, with around 100,000 cigarettes and 37kg of tobacco recovered in a crackdown over the last month alone.

Anyone wishing to report the sale of illegal tobacco should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.