A Bradford store manager caught three times selling “bootleg” cigarettes at knock-down prices has been spared an immediate jail sentence.

Kirmanj Kareem Saleh avoided paying almost £30,000 in duty on counterfeit and illegal cigarettes bearing the logos of Benson and Hedges, Amber Leaf and Richmond.

Saleh, 37, of Great Horton Road, Bradford, admitted 13 offences at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court last month relating to selling goods with false trademarks, supplying cigarettes without health warnings and selling cigarettes in breach of packaging regulations.

Today, Judge Neil Davey QC sentenced him at Bradford Crown Court to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 200 hours of unpaid work and up to 25 rehabilitation activity days with the probation service.

The court heard that Saleh was running Bolton Road Mini Market when HM Revenue & Customs and West Yorkshire Trading Standards officers visited the business three times between August and November, 2019.

In all, they seized almost 5,000 packs of illegal cigarettes and 85 packets of hand-rolling tobacco.

Some of the cigarettes were hidden in boxes of crisps in the store, others were in Saleh’s van and there were a substantial amount at his home.

Prosecutor Nicola Hoskins said the fake products came with “a high community impact” because they were of poor quality with a heavy metallic content.

They also posed a fire risk because they had no self-extinguishing mechanism.

The high cost of cigarettes was a way of putting people off smoking, she said.

“It’s a very expensive habit and that is a way to discourage young people from taking it up in the first place,” Miss Hoskins told the court.

Saleh’s barrister, Stephen Welford, said he came to the United Kingdom aged 14 as an asylum seeker from Kurdistan.

His mother was ill with cancer and he had been sending money back to his family there.

He was not the owner of the business but running it as the manger.

The man whose shop it was had returned to Iraq, Mr Welford said.

Saleh had stayed out of trouble in the almost two years since committing the offences and had no similar previous convictions.

He had lost his business but gained new employment at a car wash in Bradford.

Although the illegal cigarettes were worth almost £50,000 on the face of it, they had been sold very cheaply with “limited financial profit and gain.”

Judge Davey warned Saleh that he would go straight to prison if he breached the terms of the suspended sentence order.

Miss Hoskins said that the West Yorkshire Trading Standards investigation and the cost of bringing the case to court amounted to £4,864 but Judge Davey ruled that Saleh’s “straitened circumstances” meant he was able to contribute to that sum.