Atherstone seller of illegal cigarettes handed 15 month prison sentence and told he may be deported

An Atherstone shop worker has been handed a 15 month prison sentence after he was found guilty of selling and possessing counterfeit and foreign (non-duty paid) cigarettes and tobacco. The prosecution followed an investigation by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

Mr Morad Mohammed Ahmed was already subject to a suspended prison sentence for counterfeit cigarette and tobacco offences when Trading Standards Officers visited the shop he worked in, Congraves Sweets and Treats at 63 Long Street, Atherstone, on 8 November 2017.

The visit was arranged after an undercover Warwickshire Trading Standards Officer had previously been able to buy illegal cigarettes at the store.

Mr Ahmed was found in possession of 1,020 cigarettes and 1.7Kg of hand rolling tobacco. The brands included Marlboro Gold, Mayfair Blue and Amber Leaf. Some were counterfeit, others were in non-standard packaging, lacked the required health warnings or were in packaging written in a foreign language, intended for the European market.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “The trade in cheap illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit and the loss to the taxpayer means less money for schools, the NHS and local communities.”

“We also know that there are strong links between the sale of illegal tobacco and other forms of crime including drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and terrorism.”

“Warwickshire Trading Standards, working in partnership with Warwickshire Police and other agencies will continue to crack down on the sale of these illegal products in Warwickshire, helping to protect the health of residents.”

At Coventry Crown Court on Wednesday 5 June 2019, Morad Mohammed Ahmed (DoB: 01/08/77 of 41 Firbeck House, Doncaster, DN1 3AU) was found guilty of offences under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, Trade Marks Act 1994 and The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

On sentencing Mr Ahmed, Recorder Kainth said: “A truth is easy to remember, a lie is far more difficult and you (Mr Ahmed) were unable to remember the numerous lies you put before (the) jury….You have put members of the public at danger by selling counterfeit products and the impact can be harsh (and) has a knock on effect on the economic wellbeing of the country.”

He recommended that a copy of his sentencing remarks be passed to the Home Office and he encouraged them to take action to deport Mr Ahmed back to Iraq under the Borders Act, stating: “You have deliberately flouted the laws of the UK. You are a persistent and prolific offender, and someone the UK no longer invites to stay.”

In mitigation, Elizabeth Evans representing Mr Ahmed said that her client had completed the unpaid work requirement of his previous sentence and was hardworking, doing eight hour shifts packing at a warehouse and working as a delivery driver before that.

To report the sale of illegal tobacco anonymously, phone the Central England Trading Standards Authorities hotline: 0300 303 2636.