Illegal tobacco trader in Dewsbury showed 'a complete disregard for the law'
A businessman has been jailed for selling illegal cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco at his premises in Dewsbury.
Hishyar Gully, from Dewsbury, appeared at Leeds Crown Court in relation to the charges at his business, Biedronka, which is based on Huddersfield Road in the town.
Mr Gully pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months custody for trademark offences and a sentence of four months' custody for breach of the safety regulations. Those sentences were ordered to run concurrently with one another but were not suspended.
The premises were well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS), with the service having received many complaints about the premises supplying illicit and duty free tobacco.
WYTSS visited the business five times and seized illegal tobacco on each occasion which was counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, was not in the standardised packaging and was non duty paid.
Illegal tobacco was found behind the counter, on the staff members working in the shop and in an unused vehicle and caravan in the store's rear yard. Illegal tobacco was also sold to undercover officers on five occasions.
Warnings to stop the illegal activity were ignored. The total amount seized was more than 20,000 cigarettes and 17kg of hand-rolling tobacco. The loss of excise duty on the seized tobacco would have been around £12,000.
On March 16, 2016, Mr Gully was found guilty and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months plus a 200-hour community order for fraudulent trading from the same business for supplying illegal tobacco.
He was ordered to pay full costs of £4,391 and all seized tobacco products were forfeited for destruction. The trademark offences resulted in a sentence of two weeks' imprisonment suspended for 12 months.
Mr Gully has continued to supply illegal tobacco from the business with "a complete disregard for the law" despite being warned several times. A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation has also commenced and a hearing has been arranged for the end of the year.
Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards manager, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit.
"It is also linked to organised crime, human trafficking and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
"This case shows how seriously the courts view these sales and this should serve as an example to others who might break the law and risk children's health.
"I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales and encourage everyone to continue doing so to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in our communities.”