Illicit tobacco and dirty conditions led to fines

Illegal tobacco found at the International Food Store on Central Drive, Blackpool.
Illegal tobacco found at the International Food Store on Central Drive, Blackpool.
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Two workers at a
Blackpool shop have been hit with £5,000 of fines after a stash of illegal tobacco was discovered.

The owners of the International Store, on Central Drive, were also convicted of food 
hygiene offences following raids in February this year.

Officers discovered filthy conditions in food storage areas while a sniffer dog uncovered illicit tobacco stored in a concealed compartment in a purpose built wall.

The discoveries came during a sweep of businesses designed to root out illicit tobacco sales.

Mohammed Ahmed, 31, of Belmont Avenue, Blackpool, was fined £3,000 by Blackpool magistrates and ordered to pay costs totalling £1,635 for selling illicit tobacco.

Sniequole Stundzaite, 28, also of Belmont Avenue, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,064 costs for 12 food hygiene offences at the same venue. Both were also ordered to pay a £120 victim of crime surcharge and must forfeit all the goods relating to the charges.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said the punishment sent out a strong message.

She added: “The conditions discovered at International Food Store were completely unacceptable.

“The sale of illicit tobacco is a major problem and credit must go to the team for taking the initiative and using a trained dog to sniff out the problem and take the items off sale.

“They subsequently discovered the food hygiene issues and the team gathered evidence and brought the matter forward for prosecution.

“Action such as this is designed to protect the public from harm as well as protecting businesses which do comply with the law and act in a professional and proper manner.

“I am pleased the court has handed down a strong punishment.”

Mr Ahmed said since the raids, he had stopped selling tobacco at the store and had carried out improvements asked of him by the council.

He said: “Everything has changed since then and I have set up a new company to run the shop.

“I don’t sell cigarettes any more and I am trying to meet all the requirements the council has asked of me. Everything they say, I do.

“But it is not possible to have a butchery without there being some blood.”