Dewsbury shop owner concealed hundreds of pounds worth of illegal tobacco

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A business owner was caught in possession of hundreds of pounds worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco in his shop.

Hishyar Gully, 36, was given a suspended prison sentence at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, March 16.

Officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards visited his Bierdronka shop, in Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury, last year after a complaint was submitted to the organisation.

Councillor Ken Smith, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “Although a lot has been achieved, illegal tobacco is still a problem. While all smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices making it easy for children to take up the habit.”

Trading Standards officers carried out a test purchase and were sold a pouch of Golden Virginia tobacco for £3 at the premises, which was later confirmed as counterfeit.

Then last March, they searched the shop with tobacco detection dogs and uncovered a hydraulic system concealed behind a mirror in the toilet area of his shop.

They also found a mechanical concealment in the shop counter, and both were lined with cheap and illicit tobacco products, which were seized by officers.

In April and July 2015, officers revisited the shop after further complaints and found dozens of tobacco products in coats, jackets and bags around the premises.

Trading Standards said on all three occasions when officers attended the shop, Gully failed to display a statutory notice deterring under 18s from buying tobacco products.

A large quantity of the tobacco products seized by officers including Amber Leaf tobacco and Mayfair cigarettes were confirmed to be counterfeit.

Other items seized included black market cigarettes like Jin Ling and Pect, which did not have statutory health warnings on the packaging.

During interviews, Gully said he was unaware of the concealments in the shop because he had only recently taken over the shop a few days before the visit by officers.

He pleaded not guilty to all offences.

Gully was found guilty for having in possession with intent to supply 607 illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

He was sentenced to six weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, and made subject of a community order for fraudulent trading.

Gully was also ordered to pay £4,391 costs and all seized tobacco products were forfeited for destruction.

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “We are committed to the fight against illegal tobacco. By taking tough action and working with local authorities, partners and local communities, we will continue taking illegal tobacco off the streets.

“We follow up all intelligence and complaints received and encourage the public to inform us of any traders in their area.”

To report the sale of illicit tobacco products, contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000.