03:03PM, Tuesday 31 August 2021
Slough Borough Council’s trading standards team said it is ‘disappointed’ with the sentence given to a Slough business which was repeatedly caught selling counterfeit tobacco.
Hamza Pan Centre, in Park Street, received a visit from trading standards officers and tobacco detection dogs from HMRC on October 22, 2019.
The search team discovered 1,574 counterfeit tobacco products during the inspection with business owner Humza Shahid, of Hambrough Road, Southall, later interviewed about the find.
But, following a tip-off, a second search was carried out on March 9 the following year where a further 2,143 illegal tobacco products were uncovered on the same premises.
Officers seized almost 1,500 packs of illegal cigarettes in total as well as 70 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco and more than 2,000 packs of illicit smokeless tobacco.
Shahid, 29, and company, Aymann & Co Limited, both faced 16 charges which included having a product with non-English labelling, being counterfeit, with no statutory health warnings and non-plain packaging.
The company’s director and the business admitted a total of 32 offences during a hearing at Reading Magistrates Court on Friday, August 20 but escaped with a 12-month conditional discharge and court costs of £542.
Dean Cooke, principal trading standards officer, said: “As there was significant evidence to suggest this was not an isolated incident, we were disappointed with the sentence.
“However, if there are no further illegal sales from this premises, this result contributes to the process and it would have been productive.
“The council continues to operate a zero-tolerance policy in respect of illegal sale of tobacco in the borough. We will continue to monitor and act on intelligence regarding these types of products.”
Cllr Balvinder Bains, cabinet member for regulation and public protection, said: “Any counterfeit products pose a risk to the borough’s residents using them.
“We do not accept them being sold in the borough and they will be discovered resulting in potential criminal records and costs orders.”
This weekend’s smart motorway closures on the M4 will be shorter than usual due to separate bridge works taking place in West Berkshire (Junctions 13-14)