A BRADFORD shopkeeper played a “central role” in an operation to sell large amounts of counterfeit cigarettes, a court has heard.

Omer Mohammed Karim Jaf, who ran Local Mini Market on Thornton Lane, this week appeared at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court after admitting 10 charges relating to the sale of counterfeit tobacco in his store.

The court heard that the contraband was worth around £28,000.

Jaf, 35, of Carr Bottom Road, will now be sentenced next month at Bradford Crown Court.

The case had been brought by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, who visited the store on January 2021.

Ella Embleton, prosecuting, said: “Trading Standards officers attended Local Mini Market and seized 5,536 items of a total value of £28,000.

“This was a significant trade that he had embarked on.”

She told Magistrates that numerous attempts had been made to engage with Jaf after his crimes were uncovered, but he failed to attend multiple interviews.

His solicitor contacted Trading Standards on June 22, and an interview was arranged for July 14. Jaf failed to attend that interview and made no contact with trading Standards.

Mrs Embleton said: “His non-compliance didn’t stop there.”

She told the court how he failed to attend court to answer the charges in February. The court gave him “the benefit of the doubt” and rearranged his court date for May, when he finally attended and pleaded guilty to the charges.

Mrs Embleton added: “He played a central role in a large-scale operation that was making vast amounts of money from these tobacco products.”

The court was told that during the raid it was discovered that an employee in the store was forbidden from taking employment in the UK.

She said: “This is a much bigger operation than just tobacco products.”

Mr Majid, defending, said Jaf was “remorseful for his actions.”

He explained that the defendant had a lot going on in his life at the time, and claimed he had left the ordering of stock for the store up to his friend.

He added: “But he accepts ultimate responsibility lies with him. There is no evidence of my client operating in a group or as part of a gang.”

The business would be wound up due to a mix of these legal proceedings and the current financial climate, magistrates were told.

After deliberating, Magistrates decided they did not have sufficient sentencing powers to deal with the case and told Jaf that he will be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on July 11.