Illegal tobacco seller sentenced after raid reveals carefully hidden stashes at Norfolk shop
07 June 2021
A Norfolk man was handed a 4 month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Norwich Crown Court on Friday 4 June. This follows a successful investigation and prosecution carried out by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards.
Osman Hussein Abdullah Hassan, 36, of Limassol Road, Dereham was sentenced to 4 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £1000 towards costs, payable within 12 months, for the sale of illegal tobacco from a business he ran in Dereham.
In raids carried out in May and July 2019 the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team seized 365 packs or pouches of illegal tobacco with a value of more than £5000. Pictures taken at the premises in Dereham clearly show the considerable efforts made to hide the illegal tobacco in both a secret cupboard in the wall of a storeroom, and in a specially constructed under counter compartment.
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities, said: “I welcome today’s outcome as our trading standards team put together such a strong case the defendant had no option but to plead guilty. The illegal tobacco was carefully concealed in his premises and he continued to sell fake cigarettes and tobacco even after we had provided advice on a number of occasions and seized the illegal goods.
“This is part of our continuing work to crack down on criminals who sell illegal tobacco indiscriminately and prey on children as well as the adults in our communities. Illegal tobacco is not only a risk as people buying cheap cigarettes from illegal sellers cannot be sure of what they contain, but as fake cigarettes do not self-extinguish there is an increased danger of a fire.”
Mr Hassan ran the businesses Mini Mart, at 9A Market Place, Dereham and Great International Food Store, 144 King Street, Great Yarmouth. Both businesses were found in possession of tobacco products which were illegal to sell. The products were, variously, counterfeit, labelled in a language other than English, missing the required health warnings, or packaged other than in plain packaging.
Call to report illegal tobacco
Anyone who has concerns that illegal tobacco is being sold in their community can provide information by:
- Contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form.
- Calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency)
Smokers needing support in quitting the habit can contact Smokefree Norfolk on 0800 0854113, or contact their GP or pharmacy for advice.