Published: Friday, 1st March 2019

A Chatham shop owner has been sent to prison for concealing and selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Sadar Ahmadi, aged 32 of Burch Road, Gravesend, was sentenced at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 15 February 2019, following an investigation by Medway Council’s Trading Standards team.

Sniffer dogs found a stash of illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco behind a false wall in the Harem Shop in High street, Chatham, on 16 October 2017. A counterfeit electrical consumer unit had been attached to the wall to conceal it.

Following the seizure, Trading Standards carried out two further undercover test purchases and revealed that the 32-year-old continued selling illegal cigarettes at the town centre shop.

Ahmadi pleaded not guilty to 20 charges and after a one day trial, he was found guilty of all 20 offences covering the unauthorised use of registered trademarks, possessing the supply of unsafe products and breaching the controls on the standardised packaging of tobacco products.

Magistrates sentenced Ahmadi to 180 days’ imprisonment, ordered him to pay £7,172 court costs and a victim surcharge of £115. The court also ordered for the illegal tobacco products to be forfeited and destroyed.

Working tirelessly to reduce the supply of illegal tobacco sold in Medway

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Enforcement, said: “Our Trading Standards officers work tirelessly to reduce the supply of illegal tobacco being sold in Medway. The illegal tobacco trade is not safe for consumers and harms legitimate businesses. Selling these kind of products brings unwanted organised crime into our communities and undermines efforts to discourage smoking. I’d encourage anyone who knows of illegal tobacco being sold to report it, so we can work together to tackle this issue, and to prosecute offenders.”

Illegal tobacco can be highly dangerous and toxic

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Public Health, said: “Illegal tobacco can be highly dangerous and toxic. It is also concerning as the reduced price of illegal cigarettes could encourage children to start smoking. 

“Smoking remains the single biggest cause of disease and so it’s important that we continue to provide services to help smokers quit and, at the same time, tackle the issue of reducing the supply of illegal tobacco. We provide free advice to help those who want to stop smoking at our Smokefree Advice Centre in Railway Street, Chatham.”

Find out more about illegal tobacco.

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