Sniffer dog finds illegal tobacco and cigarettes hidden in Wisbech store

Court case

Court case

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A Wisbech shop keeper will carry out 100 hours of community work after a sniffer dog helped find illegal tobacco and cigarettes hidden in a concealed compartment of his store.

Awat Bebakir pleaded guilty at King’s Lynn Magistrates on Wednesday (January 13) to an offence of selling counterfeit tobacco under the Trade Marks Act and two offences of selling cigarettes without the proper labels.

Around 3,820 cigarettes which were not properly labelled and 700g of counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco was found at Europe Shop, Blackfriars Road, Wisbech on May 15 last year.

The tobacco and cigarettes were hidden in a concealed compartment in the shop and may have been missed in a search if it was not for the dog supplied by Wagtail International.

The joint operation was carried out by Cambridgeshire County Council Trading Standards and Cambridgeshire police.

Magistrates sentenced Bebakir to 100 hours of unpaid work for each of the three offences to be served concurrently and he was ordered to pay £1,200 towards prosecution costs as well as a £15 victim surcharge.

Aileen Andrews, acting head of service for Cambridgeshire County Council Supporting Businesses and Communities service, said: “There are no checks on what goes into counterfeit tobacco and people have no idea what they are getting when they buy it.

“We work closely with Cambridgeshire police and now by using sniffer dogs are finding hidden illegal and counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes. We hope this acts as a warning to other traders.”

Val Thomas, public health consultant at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We work very closely with our Trading Standards officers and are pleased their diligent action has resulted in this illegal tobacco being withdrawn.

“We know that traders in illicit tobacco target the poorest communities and vulnerable young people with cheap affordable tobacco. It can encourage the uptake of smoking and does not support those who are trying to quit.

“The work of Trading Standards plays an important role in helping to prevent smoking and reduce the risks for smokers of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“We want to see health improvements in this county and with poor and disadvantageous communities and young people often the target of this cheap tobacco, it does not encourage people to quit. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”