A Leamington store owner has been prosecuted after selling counterfeit cigarettes to children.
Arsalan Abdulbakht, the owner of International Mini Market, in High Street has been successfully prosecuted after an investigation by Warwickshire County Council trading standards officers.
The officers headed the investigation and subsequent prosecution after seizing counterfeit cigarettes on sale in the store in May 2016 and receiving intelligence that the store was selling cigarettes to children.
On July 7 2016, officers asked a fifteen-year-old child volunteer to attempt to purchase cigarettes from the store.
The young volunteer was sold a packet of counterfeit Marlboro Gold cigarettes for £5, almost half the price of a genuine packet.
Janet Faulkner, head of Warwickshire trading standards service said: “Not only was our child volunteer sold cigarettes, which is bad enough, they were also sold counterfeits at pocket money prices.
“We know that most adult smokers begin smoking as children and when cigarettes are sold cheaply, whether they are fake or genuine, this makes it easier for children to obtain them and take up the habit.
“Warwickshire trading standards will continue to carry out these important enforcement exercises to protect the health of Warwickshire’s children and young people.”
Following the successful test purchase, the officers returned to the store and seized all of the tobacco on the premises as suspected counterfeit goods.
Some were found in cupboards behind the counter and some were hidden in speakers on the windowsill of the shop.
The court later ordered these to be forfeited and destroyed.
At Nuneaton Magistrates Court on May 2, Arsalan Abdulbakht, aged 27 of Buckley Road, Leamington was found guilty and sentenced to a 12-month Community Order with 150 hours unpaid work, a 7pm to 7am curfew for three months with electronic monitoring and was ordered to pay the full costs of £4438.34 and a £60 victim surcharge.
Warwickshire Trading Standards were supported in the prosecution by officers from Warwick District Council Environmental Health and Licensing.
The Magistrates stated that they found all five prosecution witnesses credible and they believed their version of events.
Warwickshire retailers requiring help or guidance relating to the sale of age restricted products can contact Warwickshire Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506