A BRADFORD shopkeeper who admitted selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco from his store has been jailed.

Hundreds of packets were seized from Sunrise Supermarket in Bradford in June last year, which were counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packing.

Owner Mohammad Riaz, 67, was behind the counter when West Yorkshire Trading Standards carried out the raid.

The illicit and duty free tobacco was discovered in a filing cabinet, in boxes stored on the shelves and from within a loft space in the storeroom.

The products found were: 144 20 packs of counterfeit Richmond cigarettes; 116 50g packets of counterfeit Golden Virginia tobacco; 1,742 tobacco products that did not comply with standardised packing rules; and 538 tobacco products without the statutory health warnings.

Riaz, of Haslingden Drive, pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale, supplying a tobacco product in breach of packaging regulations and supplying a tobacco product which does not carry the combined health warning.

Bradford Crown Court heard how Trading Standards and West Yorkshire Police carried out the raid on Sunrise Supermarkets, Westfield Road, off Toller Lane, after a tip off that the store was selling illicit tobacco.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Illicit cigarettes seized by West Yorkshire Trading Standards from Sunshine Supermarket in BradfordIllicit cigarettes seized by West Yorkshire Trading Standards from Sunshine Supermarket in Bradford

They seized 32,500 cigarettes in total, with the street value of the seizure around £12,000.

In Riaz's defence, the court heard that he was deeply ashamed of his actions, and that he had been struggling to deal with the death of his son to a brain tumour.

Judge Andrew Hatton sentenced Riaz to 28 days in prison, adding: "Such offences strike at the very heart of economy at a time when the economy needs to be as strong as it possibly can be."

The tobacco products were confiscated and a timetable was set out for the proceeds of crime to be recovered.

Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards manager said: “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime including human trafficking.

"This sentence should be a warning to others who supply illegal tobacco. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Crown CourtBradford Crown Court

To report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it anonymously at keep-it-out.co.uk.

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