12 months Prison Sentence for storing illegal tobacco products.
A resident of Leamington Spa has been sentenced to a year of immediate custody following the discovery of over 8,000 packets of illegal cigarettes and a series of lies to Trading Standards officers in Coventry.
Mr Arsalan Abdulbakht, 28, of Buckley Road, Leamington Spa was sentenced to 12 months in prison when he appeared at Warwick Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 11 December).
The sentence followed an investigation by Coventry’s Trading Standards Team that led to over 8,000 packets of illegal cigarettes and 900 packets of hand rolling tobacco being found in a storage unit in Coventry. The court heard how intelligence was received that illegal cigarettes were being held in a city storage unit and being distributed to shops in Coventry and Warwickshire.
When officers visited the storage premises they were able to identify a unit that was being used by examining CCTV footage. When access was gained to the unit the illegal cigarettes and tobacco were found.
The rental agreement for the unit was taken out in the name of Mr Abdulbakht. When he was interviewed by officers from Coventry Trading Standards he admitted that he did rent the unit but claimed it was for a friend. Checks on this friend found nothing.
It then emerged that Mr Abdulbakht had just been prosecuted for possession of illegal cigarettes and tobacco by Warwickshire Trading Standards after these products were found in a shop he was renting in Leamington Spa. Mr Abdulbakht was also found to be renting a shop in Nuneaton at the time of the seizure in the storage unit in Coventry.
Mr Abdulbakht pleaded guilty to the offences brought by Coventry Trading Standards and was sentenced under the Trade Marks Act 1994 in relation to offences for Regal cigarettes, no separate penalty was imposed for the other guilty pleas.
During sentencing, the Recorder remarked that he did not believe Mr Abdulbakht's account given on oath and, therefore, he was sentenced to 12 months custody.
Cllr Tariq Khan, Coventry City Council’s Chair of Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said: “This sentence should act as a deterrent to anyone involved in the illegal supply chain of illicit cigarettes and tobacco. These cigarettes and tobacco are often made of really poor quality ingredients that pose a serious risk to anyone who smokes them.
“Our Trading Standards Team investigates shops and suppliers of these products and so far this year we have seized over two million cigarettes. I would encourage all residents to report those involved in selling illegal tobacco. This information is vital and significantly aids our investigations.”
To report the selling of illegal tobacco call Trading Standards on 03454 040506 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org