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Coventry Shopkeeper fined for having illicit cigarettes

Published Friday, 06 December 2019

Coventry Magistrate’s Court has found Mr Aziz Fatah (45) of Princess Street, Coventry and owner of Bucuresti (formerly known as Bucharest) 490A Foleshill Road, Coventry guilty of six offences.

Mr Fatah was found guilty on 4 December 2019 for six offences relating to the supply of illicit tobacco, and fined £375 in relation to the cigarettes not displaying an appropriate health warning in English, with no separate penalty for the other offences. He was also ordered to pay Costs of £1490 and a victim surcharge of £37, totalling £1902.

The magistrates were satisfied that all offences were proved beyond reasonable doubt, Mr Fatah’s evidence was inconsistent / not credible and did not believe he had no knowledge of the cigarettes or their storage.

The Court heard that on 5 December 2018, Trading Standards officers visited the premises with a tobacco sniffer dog. The person standing behind the counter was Mr Aziz Fatah (45) of Princess Street Coventry.

At the rear of the shop, inside a small storeroom, the sniffer dog indicated the presence of tobacco. Officers discovered in the corner that there were two shelving units cleverly hidden behind the door frame. These shelving units contained 276 packets of illicit cigarettes. These were a mixture of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes. The illicit street value of these would have been approximately £1242 and £2760 if genuine.

On 16th January 2019 Trading Standards carried out a test purchase of cigarettes from this shop. The cigarettes purchased cost £5.00 and were called ‘L&M’. They have been confirmed as being illicit (smuggled - foreign labelled Polish cigarettes).

On 26 January 2019 Trading Standards officers visited the shop and the sniffer dog indicated the presence of tobacco by a shelving unit which contained cans of pop and alcohol. After a while officers discovered that there was a secret compartment built behind the bottom of this shelving unit.

In total 88 packets of cigarettes were seized. These were a mixture of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes. The illicit street value of these would have been approximately £396 and £880 if genuine.

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