Family fined for supply of fake fags
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TWO Weston shops have been raided and a family fined for selling counterfeit tobacco after helping to provide a ‘low-cost source of tobacco to children’.
North Somerset’s Trading Standards say these products encourage children to smoke, and the problem has plagued Weston for ‘years’.
On Friday at North Somerset Courthouse, three defendants pleaded guilty to a number of offences relating to the supply of counterfeit tobacco.
The illicit substance was seized from Oxford News in Oxford Street and Eurozone in Meadow Street.
Zardasht Abdalla, aged 40, and Aleksandra Abdalla, aged 31, both of Shipham Close, were involved in selling illegal tobacco products from Oxford News.
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Following a tip-off and a joint operation with police, on July 7 last year, tobacco and £2,700 in cash was seized from the newsagents and the Abdallas’ home.
Zardasht Abdalla pleaded guilty to four offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and four offences under Tobacco Labelling Regulations 2002.
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He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and was fined £208 including a victim surcharge. He was also required to pay £300 costs.
Aleksandra Abdalla pleaded guilty to one tobacco labelling offence with three other labelling offences taken into consideration. She was fined a total of £93, including a victim surcharge.
During the same operation by North Somerset Council’s Trading Standards, with support from Avon and Somerset Constabulary and HM Revenue and Customs, officers also seized tobacco from the convenience store Eurozone.
The defendant, Ari Omar Abdulla, pleaded guilty to three offences under the Trade Marks Act relating to this store and two tobacco labelling offences.
Abdulla, aged 34 and from Nottingham, was sentenced to a six-month community order, together with fines of £1,060 including a victim surcharge. Costs of £1,000 were also awarded against him.
All defendants agreed for the tobacco seized by Trading Standards to be forfeited.
Assistant director of operations at the council Mandy Bishop said: “Weston has suffered from an influx of illicit tobacco products for several years.
“Cheap tobacco increases smoking uptake, especially by the young. It also damages the local economy, as visits to legitimate businesses for grocery items significantly reduce when consumers take their spending to the bootleg tobacco outlets.
“Sadly, we know this is not a victimless crime and sentencing does not always reflect the wider harm. The illegal tobacco trade creates a continuously accessible low-cost source of tobacco to children. It also enables smokers to continue with the habit without the motivation of price to enable them to quit.”
Police Neighbourhood Inspector Sharon Bennett said: “We will continue to work with Trading Standards officers to tackle issues which can cause harm in our communities, such as the sale of counterfeit and illicit tobacco and alcohol.
“We’re glad to see a successful prosecution as a result.”
If you have any information relating to the sale of illegal tobacco, it can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. You can also email Trading Standards on firstname.lastname@example.org.