Council “disappointed” at sentence after counterfeit tobacco found twice at business premises

A council has expressed disappointment at the sentence handed down to a business owner after counterfeit tobacco was found on his premises twice in five months.

Trading standards officers at Slough Council first found 1,574 counterfeit tobacco products at Hamza Pan Centre, Park Street, Slough, on 22 October 2019, with the assistance of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs tobacco detection dogs.

Humza Shahid was interviewed about the find and, following a tip-off, a further 2,143 illegal tobacco products were discovered at the same premises on 9 March 2020.

In total 1,496 packs of illegal cigarettes, 70 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco and 2,151 pouches of illegal smokeless tobacco were seized.

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Slough’s trading standards investigation led to the company, Aymann & Co Limited, and its director Mr Shahid each facing 16 charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994, Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, and the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.

The tobacco offences included having a product with non-English labelling, being counterfeit, no statutory health warnings, and non-plain packaging.

Mr Shahid, 29, of Hambrough Road, Southall, and the business admitted a total of 32 offences during a hearing at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday 20 August.

Magistrates handed Mr Shahid a 12-month conditional discharge and he was ordered to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £42.

Dean Cooke, principal trading standards officer at Slough, 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, the council’s 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.”