Convenience store boss admits trading illegal cigarettes and tobacco
- Credit: PA
A Suffolk shop owner could face a custodial sentence for allowing the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco at knock-down prices.
Karzan Khalid appeared at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court after Trading Standards exposed the trade at Sudbury Convenience Store last year – finding 124 packs of unsafe PECT cigarettes and 48 packs of unsafe NZ Superslim cigarettes.
The 38-year-old, of Sussex Road, Colchester, also admitted possessing fake Mayfair cigarettes, along with supplying 518 packs of cigarettes and 118 packs of tobacco in the wrong packaging and without NHS smoking cessation labels.
He accepted the same charges on behalf of his company, Dixie En Ltd, and a further charge of carrying on business with intent to defraud creditors.
Prosecutor Adam Pearson said officers seized the cigarettes and tobacco at the shop in East Street, Sudbury, on June 22 last year.
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Khalid was not on the premises at the time of the raid, which included the use of sniffer dogs and the confiscation of 83 packs of Marlboro Gold cigarettes, 43 packs of L&M, 87 packs of Mayfair, 83 packs of Golden Virginia tobacco and 35 packs of Amber Leaf.
Tests found the Mayfair cigarettes to be counterfeit, while the Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf tobacco were genuine, but came from outside the EU and did not carry health warnings.
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“The PECT and NZ Superslim cigarettes failed emission testing, making them unsafe,” added Mr Pearson.
CCTV showed barcodes being scanned for genuine cigarette and tobacco sales, but prices being keyed into the cash register for the unregulated products.
The majority of sales were illegal, said Mr Pearson, who gave the example of 253 illegal sales and just eight genuine sales on one of the seven days.
“Cigarettes sold for £4 and tobacco sold for £6,” said Mr Pearson.
“Sales measured in their hundreds, if not thousands. This was only a snapshot of what was being touted over time.”
Khalid’s defence said the father-of-one had been struggling financially and that “desperate times led to extreme measures”.
His firm was in the process of being wound up and he would be leaving the trade entirely to set up a car wash, the court heard.
Khalid will be sentenced at crown court following a report by the probation service.
Councillor Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “This case is a great example of partnership working with other local authorities to ensure the public is protected.
“Suffolk County Council and our Trading Standards team will always act against shopkeepers who put their own profits above the health and safety of Suffolk residents.
“Sales of these illegal products also prevent valuable income from reaching genuine businesses.”