Rogue Blackpool shopkeeper told to pay £45k or face prison

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

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A shopkeeper who sold illicit tobacco from his store has been ordered to pay £45,000 or face 15 months in prison.

Salim Balesaria, 39, was found to have benefited from his crimes to the tune of £45,000 during a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Recorder Parry ordered him to pay it back.

It comes after Balesaria was caught trading black market products at the International Delicatessen, on Dickson Road, Blackpool, in 2014.

His wife held an alcohol licence licence for the shop.

An undercover officer from Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards department had bought some rolling tobacco at the half price of legitimate tobacco.

A haul of fake tobacco was discovered in a subsequent raid on the business.

Balesaria, of Lammack Road, Blackburn, was given a 28-day suspended jail term after admitting three offences relating to the sale or possession of counterfeit tobacco and an offence of providing a false name.

A car licence check revealed his true name.

Balesaria was prosecuted in 2008 for selling counterfeit cigarettes at a different shop.

He also had two previous convictions for selling tobacco to underage children.

A licensing review was submitted for the premises.

During the original prosecuting, David Traynor, said the undercover customer was offered rolling tobacco for £4.50. The usual price is £8 to £10.

A total of 145 packs of rolling tobacco were seized.

Mr Traynor said: “They were sent off for analysis.

“None of them were genuine. None were foreign and imported and they were not made by trademark holders.”

Judge Beverley Lunt told him: “If you fall into this temptation again you are going to go to prison”.