Shopkeeper’s secret stash of illegal cigs

Shopkeeper’s secret stash of illegal cigs

A SOPHISTICATED counterfeit cigarette operation was found in a Dewsbury shop by trading standards officials.

Hishyar Gully, 36, used a hydraulic system concealed behind a mirror in the toilet of his ‘Biedronka’ premises on Huddersfield Road.

There was a separate concealed area within the shop counter which was mechanically operated.

Both were lined with illegal tobacco products with a combined street value of £1,821.

Gully, of Crown Flatt Way, was prosecuted after a complaint was made to trading standards.

Kirklees Magistrates’ Court heard an officer followed up by making a test purchase.

The officer was sold a pouch of Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco for £3, which was later confirmed as counterfeit.

As a result Biedronka was raided in March last year and the hidden storage areas were found.

Further raids took place in April and June, 2015, after further complaints were received.

Nearly 150 tobacco products were found in various coats, jackets and bags around the premises.

A large quantity of the items seized, such as Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco and Mayfair cigarettes, were counterfeit.

Non-UK and black market cigarettes such as Jin Ling and Pect/Fest were also found.

During all three raids, officers spotted the statutory under 18s warning notice was not displayed in a prominent position as legally required.

Gully told officers he was unaware of the concealed areas as he took over the shop only days earlier.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing with intent to supply 607 illicit cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco products.

Gully said several people had shop keys so the items might have been brought in at any time.

He was found guilty and sentenced to six weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

He was also given a 200-hour community work order, must pay costs of £4,391 and all seized tobacco products were destroyed.

Infringement of trademarks resulted in a two-week jail term suspended for 12 months.

Kirklees councillor Ken Smith of the trading standards committee, said: “Illegal tobacco is still a problem.

“While all smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices, making it easy for children to take up the habit.”

Anyone with suspicions about the sale of illicit tobacco can report it to a trading standards hotline on 0300 999 0000.

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