A shop in Foleshill has had its licence revoked after Coventry Trading Standards officers found illegal cigarettes hidden in a sewage drain and sweet jars.
The Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Sub-Committee heard that officers, accompanied by a specially trained sniffer dog, discovered stashes of illegal tobacco just a few months after Sam Mini Market on the Foleshill Road had its license to sell alcohol and tobacco granted.
Councillor Ann Lucas, Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Sub-Committee, said:
“Our Trading Standards Team provided us with some compelling evidence in the case of the Sam Mini Market. Ms Ondrea, the licence holder, couldn’t offer us any plausible explanation as to why there was illegal tobacco on her premises in spite of the conditions of her licence.
“All Premises Licence Holders must meet the licensing conditions, and the Sub-Committee had little hesitation in finding she had failed to do so and had clearly breached an agreed licensing condition.
“Selling fake and illegally imported tobacco can put people's health at risk and harm legitimate traders. Coventry City Council and its Trading Standards Team take unlawful activity such as this very seriously and this is reflected by the decision taken to revoke the licence.”
Corina Florina Ondrea, the licence holder of the Mini Market, was present at the Licencing and Regulatory Sub-Committee Hearing held yesterday (12 June) and heard that her licence would be revoked.
Ms Ondrea had applied for a licence in August 2016. However, as there had been a history of seizures of illegal tobacco products from the shop under her control, Trading Standards required a condition placed on her licence.
This meant she agreed that all alcohol and tobacco products on sale would be purchased from legitimate, traceable sources, that they should not evade any duty or taxes and comply with UK law. The licence was granted on 23 September 2016.
Due to the shop’s history, Trading Standards took a specially trained sniffer dog to the premises on 9 December 2016.
Packets of illegal tobacco were found hidden in the sweet containers at the till area, other packets were found in a locked cupboard under the counter and a further stash was found in a prepared concealment built into the sewage drain in the rear yard.
All the tobacco products found during the seizure were either foreign labelled or did not have the Health Warning in English.
The Sub-Committee decided to revoke Ms Ondrea’s premises licence which will mean no alcohol can be sold. However, Ms Ondrea has 21 days to consider appealing against the Council’s decision.
If you have any information about illegal tobacco sales please let Trading Standards know by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506 or by reporting details online.