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Hidden illegal tobacco and cigarettes found after test purchase

Published
07.06.2016

On 6th June 2016, Shorsh Ismail Hashmi, 28, appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates to face charges concerning the sale and possession for sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes.

Hashmi, of Flat 1, 11 High Street, Gloucester was, at the time of the offences, the owner of One Stop Shop, 107 Southgate Street, Gloucester.

In November 2015 officers from Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards Service and HMRC made a test purchase of 20 Marlboro cigarettes from Hashmi's shop for £5. The cigarettes were non duty paid and were labelled in Polish.

Three further packets of illegal cigarettes were found behind the counter at the shop. A full investigation was then carried out in which trading standards officers found a concealment of illegal tobacco above a ceiling that had a hole high up in the wall in the toilet room at the back of the shop.

A total of 94 packets of 20 cigarettes and 22 pouches of 50g tobacco believed to be worth a total £566 were seized. The total amount of duty evaded was around £666.

Hashmi was not present at the time of the inspection, but was contacted by the shop assistant and attended shortly afterwards. The previous owner, Paywand Ismaeeli, was also prosecuted for similar offences in 2014.

Hashmi faced three charges in total, one for the test purchase and two for seizures from the shop. Hashmi pleaded guilty in court to all 3 charges. He was fined £750, ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £1,398.91 together with a victim surcharge of £25.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "I am disgusted that people still sell illegal tobacco.

"It is immoral, and it costs the taxpayer more money. It has to stop and in Gloucestershire we will continue to investigate those who commit these crimes. Be smart and operate inside the law."

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