03 March 2016

A Northampton trader who admitted selling counterfeit tobacco has been given an eight-week suspended prison sentence.

Shamal Babakir pleaded guilty to seven offences of selling counterfeit, non-duty paid and foreign-labelled tobacco from his shop Mini Euro, in Wellingborough Road, Northampton, following an investigation by Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards.

Tobacco and cigarette stash

Test purchase

A Polish-speaking test purchaser visited Babakir’s store in June last year and was sold 10 packets of foreign-labelled cigarettes.

Trading Standards then returned to the Mini Euro shop with a specialist tobacco sniffer dog, which detected a scent behind a mirror in the toilet at the back of the shop.

The mirror, which was held in place by electro-magnets, was removed to reveal a total of 594 packets of illegal cigarettes and 67 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco and these were seized by Trading Standards.

Babakir, 32, from Coventry, was sentenced at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (March 1st) to eight weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,641.55 and a victim surcharge of £80.

Previous warning

The court heard that Babakir had received a previous warning about selling illegal tobacco products following a seizure from his shop in October 2014.

Cllr André González de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “As this case shows, our Trading Standards officers will not hesitate to take action against anyone suspected of selling illegal tobacco products.

“Illegal cigarettes not only pose a risk to people’s health but those involved in their sale are often linked to other forms of criminal activity, including drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism.

“Anyone who is offered cheap tobacco or any other types of illicit goods should report it to Trading Standards, anonymously if preferred, by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”