Convenience store sold hundreds of packs of illegal cigarettes, court hears

Leon Woods has been jailed for 20 months at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Leon Woods has been jailed for 20 months at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

A Sudbury shopkeeper who sold hundreds of packets of illegal cigarettes at knock down prices has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Trading standards officers who watched CCTV footage from the Sudbury Convenience Store in East Street found that on an average day only one in 28 packets of cigarettes and tobacco sold were genuine, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Kevin Barry, prosecuting, said a trading standards investigation began at the end of 2016 and Karzan Khalid, who was the sole director of the business, was given a warning letter.

Following a test purchase in April 2017, the premises were searched in June 2017 and illegal cigarettes were found under the counter and elsewhere in the store.

A total of 518 packets of cigarettes and 118 packets of tobacco which were counterfeit, unsafe or did not carry health warnings were seized from the premises during the raid.

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Mr Barry said over a two-week period, it was found an average of 170 illegal packets of cigarettes and tobacco were sold per day by the shop amounting to sales of £10,746 and a loss in customs revenue of £16,000.

Khalid, 38, of Sussex Road, Colchester, admitted fraudulent trading.

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He and his company, Dixie En Ltd, also admitted possessing fake cigarettes, supplying cigarettes and tobacco in the wrong packaging and without NHS smoking cessation labels and supplying unsafe cigarettes.

Khalid was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £5,000 costs. Dixie En Ltd was fined £3,116 and ordered to pay a £170 statutory surcharge.

Sentencing Khalid, Judge Rupert Overbury said his sale of half-price cigarettes made it impossible for genuine businesses to compete with him.

He said the sale of cigarettes which had bypassed safety control checks posed a fire risk and a risk to the health of people smoking them.

Last month Judge Overbury made a £900 wasted costs order against Suffolk Trading Standards after it failed to send a lawyer to Khalid’s initial sentencing hearing but on Thursday he withdrew the order after receiving a satisfactory explanation about what had happened.

Matthew Edwards, for Khalid, said his client’s business had been failing and he had made a wrong choice by selling illegal cigarettes.

He had now sold the business and had a car wash and valeting business.

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