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Former Grimsby shop owner pleads guilty to sale of illegal products

10:54 am, Friday, 14th July 2023 - 8 months ago


A former shop owner has pleaded guilty to selling illegal vapes, tobacco and cigarettes in Grimsby.

Rawand Khdir Rasul, 26, of Pasture Street, Grimsby, appeared before Grimsby Magistrates Court on Tuesday 11 July, facing a total of 26 charges under The Trade Marks Act 1994, The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Regulations 2015, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, and the Consumer Protection Act 1987. These were in relation to two incidents at his former business, European Mini Market, on Cromwell Road in Grimsby.

North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards officers carried out an unannounced visit to the premises on 17 August 2022 following reports from the public about the sales of illegal vapes and disposable vaping devices.

Rasul was working in the store and a total of 2,140 cigarettes and 29 x 50g pouches of tobacco were seized. These were found to be a mix of counterfeit copies and smuggled brands, all of which were illegal to sell in the UK.

A total of 50 disposable vaping bars designed for the American market were also seized, which contained up to seven times the legal UK limit of nicotine liquid. He was subsequently interviewed and admitted he was the owner and had been selling the illegal products, claiming he did not know that it was illegal to do so.

Following further reports of concern from the public, the shop was inspected again on 14 December 2022. Rasul was again working in the store. On this occasion, 1,920 cigarettes, 48 pouches of tobacco and 37 illegal vaping bars were seized. He was interviewed again where he stated he had sold the business a few days prior and was working until a time that the new owner could find staff and was effectively the manager. He admitted he had continued to sell the illegal goods.

Rasul, now unemployed, entered guilty pleas to all offences and after the Bench took into account his current circumstances, previous good character, and his early guilty plea, he received a total of £1,000 in fines, a victim surcharge to pay of £160, and was instructed to make a contribution to council costs of £400, a total financial penalty of £1,560.

This is the second conviction involving illegal vaping devices in recent weeks and shows that the council’s Trading Standards Team are continuing to crack down on businesses selling not only illegal tobacco products but these unregulated, illegally imported devices.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “I am pleased our Trading Standards team has secured yet another conviction, not only against illicit cigarettes and tobacco, but also against the illegal selling of vapes, which has become an ever-increasing worrying trend.

“All cigarettes and tobacco are harmful, but illegal cigarettes and tobacco tend to be priced much cheaper, making it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked, with the same applying to the oversized, illegal vape bars, which are clearly marketed towards children and young people.

“This illegal trade has strong links to organised crime and criminal gangs, so those buying these products often pours money into people smuggling, drug dealing, money laundering and even terrorism. Even small-time local sellers are at the end of a long criminal chain – selling illegal tobacco and vapes is a crime.”

He added that the public can continue to make a difference by reporting any suspicions.

“Help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. We need to keep the pressure up on those who continue to sell it.”

Report any suspicions to Trading Standards on [email protected] or call (01472) 326299, option 3.

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