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Trader convicted over illegal tobacco sales

A former Middlesbrough trader has been convicted of selling counterfeit and unsafe cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

Ari Mohamadi was working in Akmao butchers on Parliament Road in Middlesbrough in June, 2017 when HMRC Officers and a Trading Standards Officer visited and found a box containing over 2,800 cigarettes and 550g of hand rolling tobacco.

The illicit items did not have the correct labelling and some of it was counterfeit. 

There were also concerns over the safety of the cigarettes as preliminary tests showed they did not have a safety feature preventing them from burning if left unattended.  

Appearing before Teesside Magistrates on Monday (November 5), Mohamadi was found guilty of five trade mark offences and eight tobacco labelling offences. 

As he now lives in Cardiff it was agreed that the sentencing would take place immediately to avoid him having to come back to Teesside on another day.

The 29-year-old, of Vivian Road, Newport, Wales was given a 12-month community order with 180 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay £1,215 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

The court also ordered the destruction of the seized goods.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “Our Trading Standards officers will remove illicit and unsafe tobacco products from our streets whenever they come across it.

“The trade in illicit tobacco undermines all the national measures to reduce smoking and the cheap price and ready availability makes it easier for people, especially children, to start smoking, to smoke more and find it harder to quit.”

Judith Hedgley, Head of Middlesbrough Council’s Public Protection Service, added: “We deal with illicit tobacco because it’s both a public health and product safety matter.

“We are working with partners to stamp out this problem in Middlesbrough.”