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Trowbridge shopkeeper given suspended sentence for selling illicit tobacco after more than £100,000 worth seized

A Trowbridge shopkeeper has been sentenced for selling illegal tobacco following a raid by Wiltshire Council's Trading Standards team, in a case which also saw more than £100,000 worth of the product seized.

Published 10 May 2024
Illegal tobacco dog

At Salisbury Crown Court, today, (Friday 10 May) Shuan Al Kasab, 52, of Doncaster who traded as My Sweet Shop, Wicker Hill in Trowbridge was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.  He has also been given a curfew requiring him to reside at his address in Doncaster between 7pm and 7am for the next 4 months which will be electronically monitored. 

The tobacco supplied by Mr Al Kasab was not labelled with the required health warnings, was not in standardised packaging and the majority was also found to be counterfeit. Mr Al Kasab had previously pleaded guilty to 14 offences relating to the tobacco.

Cllr Dominic Muns, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: Counterfeit tobacco is not regulated or manufactured to the same standards as normal tobacco. It is often found to contain higher levels of harmful substances, as well as chemicals which are not normally permitted. These types of cigarettes do not always meet the requirements to self-extinguish and have been linked to several deaths through house fires.

Traders are also known to sell illegal tobacco at huge discounts at approximately £5-6 per packet, rather than around £32 for a genuine 50g packet of hand rolling tobacco. This price helps to undermine the Government's strategy to reduce the number of smokers in the UK, enabling people to continue smoking, when they may not if paying the genuine price.

It is a key priority for us to protect our residents from harm and as such our Trading Standards team are doing all they can to prosecute these traders and stop these sales taking place. I hope that the sentences that have been imposed today send a clear message that these actions will not be tolerated in Wiltshire.

Council officers visited My Sweet Shop on 24 April 2023, along with Wiltshire Police and a specialist dog trained to detect tobacco. During this visit, illegal tobacco was found under the counter and concealed in a storage area. 

Further complaints were received from the public and in May 2023 tobacco was purchased by an undercover officer.  Trading Standards officers and the police returned to the premises in July 2023, where further tobacco was found in the storage area. 

During this visit, Mr Al Kasab was searched and found to be in possession of keys for a vehicle and a property, both of which he had claimed to be in Doncaster. The vehicle was located nearby where more tobacco was found.  The keys were for a residential property in Stallard Street, Trowbridge rented by Mr Al Kasab.  Further tobacco was found at the property, together with £3,515 in cash which was also seized.  The seized tobacco found in April and July has a combined valued of almost £103,000.

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