Council raid leads to fake cigarettes haul

Crackdown on illegal tobacco sales
Crackdown on illegal tobacco sales
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A major haul of fake tobacco was discovered in a trading standards raid on a Blackpool business.

An officer posing as a customer went into the International Delicatessen, on Dickson Road, and bought some rolling tobacco at half price.

And more illegal products came to light when the premises were searched.

A man who claimed he was helping out in the shop at the time has now been given a suspended prison sentence by a judge at Preston Crown Court.

Salim Balesaria, 39, was sentenced for three offences relating to the sale or possession of counterfeit tobacco.

He was also dealt with for an offence of providing a false name.

The case follows a visit by trading standards to the business on September 30 last year.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said the premises were owned and operated by Balesaria. Someone posing as a customer went in and asked for cigarettes. The defendant pointed to some on display.

When asked about rolling tobacco the defendant offered him some which was sold for £4.50. The usual price is £8-£10.

Mr Traynor told the court: “The defendant went into the rear store room and returned a short time later with a pouch of tobacco. Money was 
exchanged.

“As soon as the trading standards officer left he went back in with a colleague in an official capacity. The shop was searched”.

A total of 145 packs of rolling tobacco were seized.

“They were sent off for analysis. None of them were genuine. None were foreign and imported and they were not made by trademark holders”, added Mr Traynor.

The defendant gave a false name to the officers. The search was suspended at one point to allow him to pick his children up from school.

But his vehicle licence plate was noted and a check revealed his true name.

The court heard that in 2008 he was prosecuted for selling counterfeit cigarettes at a different shop. He also had two previous convictions for selling tobacco to underage children.

The defendant told the judge: “I was just helping out at the shop in this instance. The place isn’t mine.

“I needed the money”.

He was given 28 days in prison, suspended for six months.

Judge Beverley Lunt told him: “It is dangerous to sell this. You don’t know what is in it. If you fall into this temptation again you are going to go to prison”.