Trading Standards enforcement

We enforce over 80 parliamentary Acts and 2,000 supporting pieces of legislation.  Read our legislation enforced list for further details.

In doing so we recognise that while most people want to comply with legal requirements, some will operate outside the law (both intentionally and unintentionally).

We adopt a staged approach to enforcement, with advice and informal action fully explored to resolve the matter in the first instance.  However we will consider taking immediate formal action for serious breaches.  All enforcement work is undertaken in accordance with our enforcement policy.

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Joint Police/Trading Standards operation to tackle illegal tobacco supply in King's Lynn

A million illegal cigarettes have been seized in King’s Lynn on Thursday 28 June 2018 as part of a joint operation between Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council Trading Standards.

A 37-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the find. The illegal cigarettes* have an estimated street value of £500,000 and were seized in a series of raids from a number of locations in London Road and Norfolk Street. A large amount of cash was also seized during the operation. The action follows an investigation targeting the importation and sale of illegal tobacco.

Superintendent Dave Buckley, local policing commander for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, said: “This result highlights our commitment to work with partners to target criminal activity, including those involved in organised crime.

Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee said: “The raids are part of our ongoing campaign, working with partners, to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco in Norfolk. The people that sell illegal tobacco put our youngest residents at risk because they are selling harmful goods at ‘pocket money’ prices. Sellers of illegal tobacco may be involved in other criminal activity, including organised crime.

“Hopefully these raids will raise awareness about our campaign and we would encourage Norfolk residents to come forward with any information they may have about illegal tobacco sold in their communities. Norfolk County Council Trading Standards are always ready to respond to any intelligence they receive.”

Residents can provide information by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or by calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency).

*Illegal tobacco is a term used to describe a range of tobacco products, including:

  • Counterfeit versions of popular cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco brands
  • Products legitimately available in other countries smuggled into the UK (so no duty is paid and the products are not marked with the appropriate English health warnings)
  • Products made exclusively for the illicit market

Sentencing for builder

On 7 March 2018 at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, Mr Philip Adams, previously of Old Catton, but now of Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to two offences of:

  • Failing to undertake work for which he had received payment within a reasonable period of time or to undertake the work at all
  • Failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill
  • Failing to engage with contracted customers to resolve concerns and complaints, and
  • Failing to return monies he owed to his contracted customers following his failure to undertake the work, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

The Magistrates accepted the pleas but sent the matter to Norwich Crown Court for sentence as they believed their sentencing powers were insufficient.

The sentencing hearing took place on 27 June 2018 at Norwich Crown Court.  In her speech, the Judge determined the offences committed by Mr Adams had placed intolerable strain and financial stress on both a young family and an elderly lady, and were more serious due to the period of time of offending and the repeated conduct of the defendant.  The Judge advised an immediate custodial sentence was justified and imposed six month and one month sentences for the offences to run concurrently.

The Judge determined Mr Adams will serve three months and remain on licence for a further three months.  The judge also directed a timetable for a Proceeds of Crime investigation which will include compensation orders to be sought for the victims.

The circumstances of the case are that in 2015/2016 Mr Adams, a self-employed builder, contracted with two separate consumers, one a young family and one an elderly lady, to undertake building and home improvement works.  Mr Adams received monies from the two customers totalling just under £20,000.  Mr Adams purported to progress statutory paperwork and progress building works over a time period for both contracts of just under one year.  In both cases Mr Adams failed to complete the paperwork or construction work.  Mr Adams also refused to engage with his customers on non-completion of work or to return monies owed to his victims for his failure to complete the work.  This caused the victims financial and emotional distress and required the consumers to access further monies to employ other traders to complete the originally agreed work.

Prosecution of retailer selling illegal tobacco products

On 30 May 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Romanian Village Shop Limited and Ms Sorina Valeria Abraham, as sole director of the company, were found guilty of the following offences:

i. One offence of having in possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products the packaging of which contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark; contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
ii. Two offences of supplying tobacco products in packaging which did not contain a combined health warning in English; as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
iii. One offence of supplying tobacco products which were not in the green packaging required for compliance with the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products 2015.

Ms Abraham became the owner of Romanian Village Shop Limited, trading at 24A Magdalen Street, Norwich in February 2016. Ms Abraham has another trading premises in Ipswich. Trading Standards started to receive complaints in Spring 2017 regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products from the Magdalen Street shop; i.e. cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco not packaged or labelled in accordance with the strict controls required on colouring, layout and health warnings. Trading Standards Officers undertook an inspection of the Magdalen Street shop on 1 June 2017 at which it was noted and confirmed by the store assistant that the shop did not sell legal tobacco products. Illegal tobacco products were seized from stock rooms in the cellar and on the first floor. Advice was left with the shop assistants to give to Ms Abraham on the requirements for legal sale of tobacco products in the UK.

Ms Abraham attended a PACE interview and confirmed she was the owner of the shop and company but she did not visit the store. Although CCTV was present for the store Ms Abraham never viewed it or went there.

The defendant sought legal representation and attended the first hearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on 14 March 2018 at which she pleaded not guilty. The trial was fixed for 30 May 2018. On 30 May 2018 Ms Abraham did not attend. Trading Standards asked for the matter to proceed in her absence. The Magistrates viewed the evidence submitted by Ms Abraham’s legal representative for her non-attendance and agreed to proceed.

The four offences were proved in absence. The Magistrates discussed whether they wished to proceed to sentencing and agreed to proceed. After a short recess to deliberate the Magistrates returned with their determination which included £2,000 fines for the four offences, £1,600 costs awarded to Trading Standards, and a victim surcharge of £180. The Magistrates also granted a forfeiture and destruction order in favour of Trading Standards for the seized items.

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of
consumers is not compromised (especially that of young people who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes).

Animal by-products prosecution

On 17 May 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Nigel Key of Limpenhoe, pleaded guilty to the following offences:

(i) One offence contrary to Regulation 17 of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2013 by his failure to ensure bodies or parts of bodies of animals not slaughtered for human consumption were kept in such a manner as to ensure no animal or bird had access to them;
(ii) One offence contrary to Regulation 17 of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2013 by failing to ensure animal by-products were transported without undue delay under conditions which prevent risks arising to public and animal health.

Mr Key is an experienced farmer who has farmed livestock at his farm for a number of years (over 30). Over this time Mr Key has received significant advice and assistance to understand the requirements for legal disposal of animal by-products.

Following a complaint made to Trading Standards that dead and decomposing animal bodies were on Mr Key’s farm, Trading Standards undertook an inspection with an Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) vet in July 2017. At the farm sheep carcases and bones could be seen on the ground. These animal by-products were accessible to wild animals and birds and not stored correctly for collection and disposal by an approved animal by-product collector.  A box which had an ill-fitting lid contained animal carcases for collection.  The officers inspected the box and identified, due to their state of decomposition, that animal by-products stored in the box had been awaiting collection for longer than three weeks.

The officers inspected a wider area of the farm and identified animal bones and remains spread across adjacent fields of the farm.  These animal bones, remains and carcases pose a significant threat of spread of disease by wild animals.

When sentencing, the magistrates noted that this was not the first time that Mr Key had been before the Court regarding such matters, and fined him £2,000 (£1,000 for each offence).  He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100 and to pay prosecution costs of £1,665.

Sale of illegal tobacco - prosecution

On 5 April 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Hakem Ali of Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT, 53 Woodcock Road, Norwich NR3 3TH, pleaded guilty to the following offences:-

(i) one offence of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
(ii) one offence of possession with intent to supply tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

At the sentencing hearing on 17 May 2018 the Court ordered that Mr Ali should receive a community sentence of 200 hours unpaid work.

Following sentencing, the Court set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) - the outcome of which will also inform any costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.

Mr Ali became the owner of Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT in January 2012. Trading Standards started to receive complaints regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products in December 2016 and on 13 December 2016 a test purchase was carried out at the premises and sales of illegal tobacco products were made.

Despite the intervention of Trading Standards, further intelligence received during March 2017 suggested ongoing sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. On 10 March 2017, at a joint inspection with Norfolk Constabulary, using a tobacco detection dog, Trading Standards found in the CCTV room a concealment above the false ceiling over the toilet which contained 349 packets of cigarettes and 18.50g of hand rolling tobacco. The value of the total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £3,800 which is considered a commercial quantity.

Mr Ali’s alcohol licence for the premises was revoked following a Trading Standards application to Norwich City Council, at a review hearing on 22 September 2017. Mr Ali initially appealed against this decision but on 12 March 2018 at Norwich Magistrates Court the appeal was abandoned and costs were ordered against Mr Ali.

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.

Sentencing of motor parts trader

On 28 February 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Peter Bradley of Norwich pleaded guilty to offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and fraudulent trading contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, by taking payment for and then failing to supply used motor vehicle engines.

Mr Bradley also asked for two further similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a subsequent time period and three further consumers.

On 4 April 2018, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Bradley asked for another two similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a further time period and one other consumer.

Mr Bradley was sentenced to:

  • Twenty weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and conditional on 10 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement
  • Compensation payable to each of the 15 victims on whose evidence the prosecution was brought, being a total of £6360.00
  • A criminal behaviour order restricting his trading activities, so as to prohibit the direct receipt of up-front payments from consumers and to require certain conduct relating to complaint handling

Mr Bradley was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £6834.90.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bradley, a sole trader operating through a website as Find an Engine UK, offered to supply used engines to a number of consumers. In each case, an up-front deposit or prepayment was requested, and in some cases further payments were also requested, but no engine was supplied. Over a period of 13 months, over £6000 was taken from the 14 consumers who were witnesses in the case. Mr Bradley had accepted a caution from Trading Standards in relation to similar conduct in September 2016.

Sentencing of local builder for consumer protection offences

On 27 February 2018 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

On 28 March 2018, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower was sentenced to:

  • Five months imprisonment for each offence, suspended for 18 months, and
  • 180 hours unpaid community work

The circumstances of the first offence are that Mr Blanchflower contracted with a couple to build an extension. Despite being paid over £85,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than 6 months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £25,000 to have the extension completed.

The circumstances of the second offence are that Mr Blanchflower contracted with another couple, to build a two story extension. Despite being paid over £100,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than 6 months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £60,000 to have the extension completed. The victims and their children (including their recently born 3rd child) intended to live in a caravan on site commencing in March 2016 whilst the planned work was completed. However they were forced to continue to live in the caravan throughout 2017, whilst the remedial work and build were concluded.

Victim Impact Statements were read out on behalf of both victims in Court and his Honour Judge Shaw commended Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Officers for their diligent investigation of these matters.

Following sentencing, Judge Shaw set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) -
the outcome of which will also inform any compensation for victims or costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.

Mr Blanchflower had been previously sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment for a very similar offence in October 2017. The circumstances of that case were that Mr Blanchflower contracted with a couple, both in their mid-seventies, to build an extension, to improve their living arrangements. Despite being paid over £45,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build in more than half a year and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay over £166,000 to have Mr Blanchflower’s extension demolished and rebuilt.

The Trading Standards Service recommends that people should always use a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a trader who has been personally recommended to them by friends or family who have had similar work done. Consumers can find a Norfolk Trusted Trader by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader or by calling 0344 800 8020.

If your constituents are concerned about rogue builder activity, they can contact Trading Standards through our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 03454 04 05 06.

Website trader pleaded guilty to offences

On 28 February 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Peter Bradley of Norwich, pleaded guilty to offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and fraudulent trading contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, by taking payment for and then failing to supply used motor vehicle engines.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bradley, a sole trader operating through a website as Find an Engine UK, offered to supply used engines to a number of consumers.  In each case, an up-front deposit or prepayment was requested, and in some cases further payments were also requested, but no engines were supplied.  Over a period of 11 months, nearly £5,000 was taken from the 11 consumers who were witnesses in the case.

At the hearing, Mr Bradley also asked for two further similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a subsequent time period and three further consumers.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday 4 April 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.

Builder pleads guilty to two offences

On 27 February 2018 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, previously of Attleborough but now of Bintree, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  This follows on from a previous conviction and sentencing on 12 October 2017, when Mr Blanchflower was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment for a very similar offence.

The circumstances of the first offence are that Mr Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, agreed with a couple to build an extension.  Despite being paid over £85,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than six months, and the work done was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations.  As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £25,000 to have the extension completed.

The circumstances of the second offence are that Mr Blanchflower agreed with another couple to build a two story extension.  Despite being paid over £100,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than six months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations.  As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £60,000 to have the extension completed.  The victims and their children (including their recently born third child) intended to live in a caravan on site commencing in March 2016 whilst the planned work was completed.  However they were forced to continue to live in the caravan throughout 2017, whilst the remedial work and build were concluded.

The matter was adjourned to 28 March 2018 for sentencing.

Sentencing for seller of illegal tobacco

On 24 January 2018, at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ court Ms Joana Laurusonyte pleaded guilty to three offences as follows:

  1. One offence of having in her possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products the packaging of which contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark; contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994.
  2. Two offences of supplying tobacco products in packaging which did not contain a combined health warning in English; as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Sentencing was adjourned to 16 February 2018 at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Bench:

  • Fined Ms Laurusonyte £425,
  • Set a victim surcharge of £43, and
  • Awarded the Trading Standards Service costs of £750

A Destruction Order was also granted to Trading Standards for the illegal tobacco products seized.

This prosecution followed receipt of complaints in 2016 that illegal tobacco products were being supplied and sold from Lynn Express Limited, a limited company for which Ms Laurusonyte is the sold director. A joint inspection was undertaken with Norfolk Constabulary and a tobacco detection dog on 12 January 2017. At that inspection illegal tobacco products were found in a sophisticated concealment built into the floor of the premises. The tobacco products were seized and a formal investigation into the business was opened. The total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,281.90 which was considered a commercial quantity.

In addition to this prosecution, a licence, enabling the store to sell alcohol, was revoked on 8 February 2017, following a Trading Standards application to review the licence to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk who are the licensing authority. Although an appeal was commenced the licence was surrendered on 27 April 2017, one day before the appeal hearing, as court directions had not been complied with.

Application to review premises licence and designated premises supervisor

On Monday 8 January 2018, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Bury’s Newsagents, 159-161 Aylsham Road, Norwich.

Following the presentation from Trading Standards as applicants, Norwich City Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following our seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions when we inspected the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing.  Some of the tobacco products seized were counterfeit, none of the tobacco products seized carried the required combined health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016), and none of the tobacco products were packaged according to the new requirements under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.  The haul was confirmed to be worth almost £2,100 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.  The matter is currently subject to a criminal investigation.

These reviews form part of a range of planned illegal tobacco interventions by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Service to prevent crime and disorder by interrupting the sale of illegal goods.  Our inventions are also intended to ensure the health of consumers is not compromised, especially that of vulnerable young consumers who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes

Application to review premises licence and designated premises supervisor

On Friday 5 January 2018, Great Yarmouth Borough Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Yarmouth Food and Wine trading as King Street Food and Wine.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following our seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions when we inspected the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing and also supporting evidence from Great Yarmouth Borough Council Environmental Health Department.  Some of the tobacco products seized were counterfeit, none of the tobacco products seized carried the required combined health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016), and none of the tobacco products were packaged according to the new requirements under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.  The haul was confirmed to be worth almost £1,900 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.  The matter is currently subject to a criminal investigation.

Builder prosecuted

On 3 February 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Anthony Bamford, previously of Cromer, pleaded not guilty to two offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and was committed to the Crown Court for trial. On 8 November 2017 at Norwich Crown Court Mr Bamford pleaded guilty to an alternate offence of engaging in a commercial practice contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bamford, a self-employed builder, contracted with a vulnerable man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome to renovate his home ahead of sale (as he was to reside with his mother so as to act as her carer).  Despite being paid over £35,000 for the work, Mr Bamford did not complete the build and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations.  As a result the victim, who could not afford to have any remedial action undertaken, had to sell the property at a reduced price.

On 4 January 2018 Mr Bamford appeared at Norwich Crown Court and was sentenced to:

  • Four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and
  • 120 hours work in the community

Unfortunately no compensation for the victim or costs could be awarded by the court due to Mr Bamford having no funds.

Sentencing for seller of illegal tobacco

On 23 November 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Sarhad Salari was sentenced to a further six offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Mr Salari had previously pleaded guilty at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on 6 September 2017 as follows:

  • Three offences of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the codefendants Lynn Express Limited and Joana Laurusonyte to have in their possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products which packaging contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Three offences of aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the codefendants Lynn Express Limited and Joana Laurusonyte to supply tobacco products which did not contain a combined health warning in English as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

At the sentencing hearing Judge Holt ordered that Mr Salari serve a further six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and that each offence should align with sentencing for similar matters in August this year.  As Mr Salari has been cooperating well with his existing 300 hours community service Judge Holt felt there would be no merit in awarding any further community service for these additional offences.

Judge Holt also granted a forfeiture order for the illegal tobacco products seized from the defendants in favour of Trading Standards.  This was the second investigation which involved Mr Salari receiving significant guidance and assistance for the legal sale of tobacco products from both his Kubus store in Kings Lynn (as early as 2013), and then at Lynn Express Limited during 2016.  Mr Salari had also received a written warning in April 2015.  Following complaints received by Trading Standards that Lynn Express Limited was supplying and selling illicit tobacco products, a test purchase of illegal cigarettes was carried out in December 2016, and an inspection with Norfolk Constabulary, and a tobacco detection dog was made on 12 January 2017.  At that joint inspection on 12 January 2017 illegal tobacco products were found in a sophisticated concealment built into the floor of the premises. The tobacco products were seized and a formal investigation was opened into the business.  The total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,281.90 which was considered a commercial quantity.  In addition, Trading Standards were concerned that Mr Salari had extended his alleged offending from one premises to another store in King’s Lynn.

In addition to this prosecution, the licences, enabling the store to sell alcohol were revoked on 8 February 2017, following a Trading Standards application to review the licences to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk who are the licensing authority.  Mr Salari appealed to the Magistrates’ Court against this decision but decided to surrender his licences on 27 April 2017, one day before the appeal hearing; having not complied with court directions.

Rogue builders

Four men, John Lee, 44, Charles Michael Hugh Doherty, 33, Michael Rooksby, 28, and Charles Doherty, 28, were sentenced at Northamptonshire Crown Court on Monday 30 October 2017 having pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading and fraud at an earlier hearing on 9 October 2017.

Lee was jailed for three years and four months, Rooksby for three years and 11 months, Charles Michael Hugh Doherty for four years and 10 months and Charles Doherty for two years and three months.

The four men, who traded under various business names, including Storm Shield, Roofing Solutions, Alpine General Builders and 1st Choice Property Maintenance, would cold-call at homes and claim that work needed to be done to the house; usually roofing repairs.  Often the work was unnecessary or the price would be over-inflated.  Twenty six victims were identified across Northamptonshire and surrounding counties, including five elderly residents in Norfolk (in King’s Lynn, Snettisham, Heacham and Hunstanton).  The investigation leading to the prosecution was led by Northamptonshire Trading Standards, supported by Norfolk Trading Standards and Norfolk Police.

His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey said: “This involved cold-calling elderly, vulnerable people at their homes... deliberately to take advantage of them... Some of them had memory problems, mobility problems or Alzheimer’s. Their ages ranged from 71 to 93.  You charged extortionate prices for work that often just made the situation worse or was never needed.  The actual loss, if you were to tot it up, could be more than £138,000.”

Trading Standards prosecution - result

On the 30 October 2017 Automated Garage Doors and Gates Limited of Sweetbriar Industrial Estate, Norwich was sentenced to a fine of £12,000.  The company had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to three charges brought by this service under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.  One charge related to the supply of an unsafe automated gate and the two remaining charges related to a failure by the company to carry out appropriate checks and follow required procedures before the gate in question was supplied.  This service and the Health and Safety Executive had previously given the company advice on the requirements of the 2008 Regulations.  The conviction comes as a result of a joint investigation and prosecution undertaken by Norfolk Police, Norfolk County Council Trading Standards and the Health and Safety Executive, following a fatality caused by a gate supplied by Automated Garage Doors and Gates Limited.

On the 17 April 2013 a 56 year old Blofield resident was killed at her home when she became trapped under an electronically powered gate that had come off its rail and fallen on top of her.  It was apparent that there was no stop bracket or mechanism to prevent the gate overrunning the retaining post and coming off its rail when the gate was moved manually.

The employee who fitted the gate was found guilty, following trial, of one count of manslaughter by gross negligence brought by Norfolk Police.  He had also pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 brought by the Health and Safety Executive.  On the 30 October 2017, the employee was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment in relation to these offences.

Sentenced for possession of counterfeit tobacco products

On 13 October 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Haval Shokir was sentenced to:

  • Sixteen months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years for the three offences of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Six months’ imprisonment concurrent, suspended for two years for three offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and one offence of providing false or misleading information to an officer contrary to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • Four months’ imprisonment concurrent, suspended for two years for one offence of having a dangerous product in his possession for supply namely packs of cigarettes that failed the provisions of BS EN ISO 12863:2010 for Reduced Ignition Propensity and did not meet the General Product Safety Requirement as required by General Product Safety Regulations 2005
  • Carry out 250 hours unpaid work in the community.

The court awarded orders for the forfeiture and destruction of all the tobacco products seized.
In addition, Mr Shokir’s premises licence was revoked by Breckland District Council at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing for builder

On 12 October 2017, at King’s Lynn Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the judge commended Trading Standards for the clarity of their case summary.

On 16 June 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, previously of Attleborough but now of Bintree, pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The circumstances of the case are that Mr Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, contracted with a couple, both in their mid-seventies, to build an extension, to improve their living arrangements. Despite being paid over £45,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build in more than half a year and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £166,000 to have Mr Blanchflower’s extension demolished and rebuilt. Mr Blanchflower has only refunded just over £8,200.

Illegal tobacco enforcement – premises alcohol licence revocation

On Friday 22 September 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT. A premises licence is required by a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council revoked the premises licence and also removed the current designated premises supervisor.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following test purchases and a seizure of illegal tobacco products located at the store during an inspection with Norfolk Constabulary. The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing.  None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016).  The combined haul of tobacco was confirmed to be worth in excess of £3,800 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.

Sentencing for seller of illegal tobacco

On 18 August 2017, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Sarhad Salari was sentenced to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. Mr  Salari pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a total of thirteen charges as follows:

  • Five offences of having in his possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products which packaging contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
  • Eight offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a combined health warning in English as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

At the sentencing hearing the Court ordered that Mr Salari serve six months imprisonment, suspended for two years. This was the maximum sentence the judge could have imposed.  Mr Salari was also ordered to serve 300 hours community service within the next 12 months.  During his determination Judge Bate praised Trading Standards for their thorough investigation and excellent summary of the evidence at court, stating that Mr Salari clearly had no regard to the counterfeit nature of the products he supplied or the lack of duty paid to HMRC.

Following sentencing, Judge Bate set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) - the outcome of which will also inform any costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.

Mr Salari received significant guidance and assistance for the legal sale of tobacco products from his store, Kubus in Kings Lynn, as early as 2013.  However following further issues, Mr Salari was issued with a written warning in April 2015.  When more complaints were received Trading Standards, with Norfolk Constabulary, and using a tobacco detection dog, carried out a joint inspection on 27 September 2016, and found illegal tobacco concealed within the store for supply to customers.  This was seized and a formal investigation was opened into the business. Further joint inspections were made with Norfolk Constabulary on 23 November 2016 and 12 January 2017.  At the inspection on 23 November 2016 a further sizeable seizure of illegal tobacco products was made from a new sophisticated concealed location built into the back of a fridge and on 12 January 2017 further illegal tobacco products were seized from yet another concealment in a store room at the back of the shop.  The total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £5,430 which was considered a commercial quantity.  In addition, Trading Standards were concerned that, at this point, the period of offending had exceeded three years.

In addition to this prosecution, Mr Salari’s licences, enabling the store to sell alcohol, were revoked on 13 January 2017 following a Trading Standards application to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, the licensing authority, to review the licences . Although Mr Salari appealed to the Magistrates’ Court against this decision he decided to surrender his licences on 27 April 2017, one day before the appeal hearing, having not complied with court directions.

Illegal tobacco enforcement – premises alcohol licence reviews

On Wednesday 16 August 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for European Off Licence, trading as European Food Centre.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council suspended the Premises Licence for two months and imposed additional conditions on the licence for the store in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions during inspection of the store with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who presented their further concerns at the hearing. None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016).  The combined haul of tobacco was confirmed to be worth in excess of £3,600 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices for the amount seized.

On Thursday 17 August 2017, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for Euro Food Norwich Ltd trading as Eurofoods.  A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.

Norwich City Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing.

The application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on multiple occasions when making inspections with Norfolk Constabulary.  The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk constabulary who presented their further concerns regarding licensable activities regarding sales of alcohol. None of the tobacco products seized carried the required health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016).  Cigarettes seized also failed the Reduced Ignition Propensity Test (which requires a cigarette to self-extinguish before it reaches the filter end). The value of the tobacco seized was confirmed to be in excess of £10,000 when equated to legitimate tobacco prices.

These reviews form part of a number of planned illegal tobacco interventions by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Service, working in partnership with enforcement colleagues and funded by Public Health, to interrupt the sale of illegal goods; protect legitimate traders from unfair competition; and ensure the health of consumers (especially vulnerable young consumers who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not further compromised.

Retailer selling illegal tobacco products

On 27 July 2017 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Azad Rasole of International Food, 5 Hall Road, Norwich, pleaded guilty to the following offences:-

  • Three offences of supplying tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
  • One offence of obstruction by failure to comply with a requirement properly imposed by a Trading Standards officer under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to enable the officers to seize and detain illegal tobacco products.

Mr Rasole became the owner of International Food in November 2016. Trading Standards started to receive complaints in November 2016 regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products ie cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco not packaged or labelled in accordance with the strict controls on the layout and warnings required which came into force in May 2017.

Trading Standards Officers undertook an inspection and early engagement with Mr Rasole on 6 December 2016 to provide guidance and assistance on the legal sale of tobacco products.  However a test purchase of illegal tobacco products was made on 13 December 2016 and a further joint inspection was made by Norfolk Trading Standards and Norfolk Constabulary on 31 January 2017.  At this visit a sizeable seizure of illegal tobacco products was made from a concealed area under the counter of the store.

On 31 January 2017 Mr Rasole was asked by Trading Standards Officers to open a van parked at the rear of the shop on the shop premises which officers could see contained items of concern. Mr Rasole advised he did not have keys to access the van.  The officers used their powers to force the van open and seized a large amount of illegal tobacco products from it.

The total seizure included 592 packets of 20 cigarettes and 40 x 50 gram pouches of hand rolled tobacco.  The equivalent legitimate value of these products would be £6,117.60 (based on an average packet of cigarettes being £10.00 and the average packet of hand rolled tobacco being £20.69).  This is a commercial quantity of tobacco products.

The officers also seized the CCTV for the store and on interrogation of it at a later date officers ascertained Mr Rasole did have keys to access the van and regularly access it to restock illegal tobacco products into the store.  Other CCTV images confirmed the supply of illegal tobacco products to customers from the counter area.

The defendant offered early guilty pleas to four offences and under a Basis of Plea agreed to pay prosecution costs of £3,134.94 and not to contest the cash seizure of £3,770 made on 31 January 2017.

After deliberation the magistrates determined they accepted the Basis of Plea but recognised the need to deliver sanctions which reflected the seriousness of the offences.  They advised it was their opinion the defendant knew his actions were wrong.  The magistrates then delivered fines totalling £7,620 in addition to the sums of money agreed in the Basis of Plea (a total of £14,524.94). The magistrates also agreed to the making of an order in favour of Trading Standards for forfeiture and destruction of the tobacco products seized on 31 January 2017.

This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.

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