Mr Majid Mohammed Mahmoud, of North Street, was today (Friday 11 December 2020) given a suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work at Lincoln Crown Court for possession of counterfeit and incorrectly labelled tobacco products.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards – working in partnership with Lincolnshire Police’s Licensing Team –inspected Mr Mahmoud’s Stop and Shop store at 42-44 North Street Bourne in February 2019.
Authorities found 5,740 illicit cigarettes and 750g of illicit hand rolling tobacco behind the counter and seized.
Many of the seized tobacco brands were foreign labelled and did not display the legally required pictorial and English language health warnings. None of the tobacco products were in the legally required standardised plain packaging.
The business has since been closed down as a consequence.
In summing up, the judge commented on Mr Mahmoud’s previous convictions for similar offences committed in Coventry in 2013 and 2015.
50-year-old Mahmoud had also received a written warning from Lincolnshire Trading Standards in October 2017, at which time he stated he was the owner of the business.
The judge went on to state that after this warning, Mr Mahmoud had sought to distance himself from the shop to try and avoid getting caught. He had duped a Polish man, unable to read or write in English, into taking on the shop by signing various leases and business documents that he believed were to rent a room on the property.
In court, Mr Mahmoud was handed a 12 week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay a contribution of £1,000 towards prosecution costs.
Daniel Brown, Principal Officer involved in the investigation from Lincolnshire Trading Standards, said:
“I hope this recent prosecution further reinforces how dedicated we are to tackling the sale of illicit tobacco within Lincolnshire.
“This kind of criminality serves to undermine legislation that is there is protect consumers and support local retailers that trade within the law. And it’s particularly important that we protect law-abiding businesses during the current economic climate.
“Selling illicit tobacco is not simply about unpaid taxes, these products are often dangerous counterfeits, made in unhygienic conditions and often fund further criminality within organised crime gangs.”
Earlier this year, Lincolnshire Trading Standards secured a prosecution against another shopkeeper – this time in Lincoln – for selling illegal counterfeit cigarettes. Officers also seized over 90,000 illicit cigarettes and 3.5kg of rolling tobacco during raids on premises in Portland Street in the city in February and August 2020.
Anyone with information concerning the sale of illicit tobacco can report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0345 040506, or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.