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Shop worker who sold illegal tobacco ordered to pay back more than £14,000

PUBLISHED: 14:00 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:35 06 August 2018

Norfolk Trading Standards raids on commercial premises in Great Yarmouth.
Illegal tobacco products found hidden inside a storage heater.

Picture: James Bass

Norfolk Trading Standards raids on commercial premises in Great Yarmouth. Illegal tobacco products found hidden inside a storage heater. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014

A shop worker who sold counterfeit illegal tobacco has been ordered to pay back more than £14,000 from the sale of his house.

Norfolk Trading Standards raids on commercial premises in Great Yarmouth.
Illegal tobacco products found hidden at the rear of the shop on St Peters Road.

Picture: James BassNorfolk Trading Standards raids on commercial premises in Great Yarmouth. Illegal tobacco products found hidden at the rear of the shop on St Peters Road. Picture: James Bass

Ghazi Ali, 35, was found by Norfolk Trading Standards officers to be selling the tobacco at the International Food Store in St Peter’s Road, Great Yarmouth.

Norwich Crown Court heard that despite a series of raids by the officers, Ali continued to sell the counterfeit goods, which were concealed in “sophisticated” places around the store to try to avoid detection.

The court heard that tobacco was found hidden in a hole in a wall, under a kitchen unit and under floorboards and a storage heater.

Ali was jailed for eight months in June 2015, after admitting 10 charges involving possession and supply of counterfeit tobacco in a prosecution brought by Norfolk Trading Standards. Ali was back in court three years later, for a confiscation hearing to claw back cash gained by the illegal sales.

David Wilison, prosecuting, said although the initial benefit figure for the illegal tobacco trade was put at £30,000 he said the amount which could actually be raised was £14,299, which was cash from the sale of his home in Wollaston Road, Lowestoft.

He said this was because the sale of the house had got a lower figure than originally estimated.

Mr Wilson said that Ali had paid some of the confiscated cash back but there was still £8,000 outstanding.

Judge Katharine Moore made the confiscation figure in the sum of £14,299 and warned Ali that he should pay the outstanding £8,000 of the order of face serving a further term in jail.

At his sentencing hearing back in 2015, Judge Stephen Holt said Ali had put people’s health in danger by selling the illegal tobacco.

The fake brands included Golden Virginia, Palace cigarettes and L & M cigarettes.

Judge Holt told him the fake tobacco was in a different category to counterfeit clothing; “Counterfeit cigarettes on the other hand can bring significant dangers to those who smoke them.”

He said the illegal tobacco also represented a significant loss to the revenue.

Ali’s barrister Andrew Oliver, said that Ali had just worked at the shop and others who were more involved had gone back to Iraq.

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