A COWLYN Bay shop was used to sell counterfeit cigarettes.
Mold Crown Court heard how when raided by the authorities, illegal cigarettes and tobacco valued at £15,000 were seized from The Local Store in Conway Road, which had false partitions and stairs used to store the items
Some were illegally imported, without the correct labelling; some were counterfeit and the duty had not been paid, explained barrister Lee Reynolds, prosecuting for Conwy trading standards department.
Shop owner, Kovan Abdullah, aged 27, of Water Street in Abergele, was jailed for 12 months yesterday.
Two employees, Risan Mustafa, 42, and Shorash Ali Khorshid, 30, who also lived in Water Street, were given 12 month community orders with 250 hours unpaid work.
They all admitted fraudulent trading and Abdullah also admitted trades descriptions offences.
Judge Niclas Parry ordered that all the seized tobacco and cigarettes should be destroyed and ordered the defendants to pay £500 costs.
Judge Parry said Abdullah was the planner and the organiser and had bought the business from the previous owner who he knew had been to prison herself for using the premises for fraudulent business.
“From the moment you took over, that criminality continued,” the judge said.
“It was clearly profitable because you were prepared to take risks, doing this when you knew that the previous owner who did it had gone to prison, doing this when you were on bail and still doing it despite three or four visits by the authorities.
“We will never know what was sold, but what was found was worth £15,000.”
The judge said that Mustafa and Khorshid were being sentenced as people who were working at the shop and their role was far less. Mustafa had worked at the shop at Colwyn Bay for only two or three weeks before his arrest.
Lee Reynolds told how several raids took place at the shop in 2015 and 2016 and in total 11,000 counterfeit cigarettes, 3,700 cigarettes not intended for the UK market, almost 20 kilogrammes of hand rolling tobacco were seized valued at about £15,000.
Test purchases had been made at the shop by trading standards officials and then searches were carried out by Conwy trading standards department, North Wales Police, the Immigration Service and Wagtail UK, a specialist tobacco detection dog and handler.
It was the dog which found the hidden compartments at the property.
Jonathan Austin, for Abdullah, granted asylum after fleeing Iraq and since learning all his family had been killed, who also ran a car wash at Towyn, invested in the shop and had since made a financial loss when he handed it over to someone else.
“He admits what he did was wrong,” he said.