An Eastbourne shopkeeper who sold potentially dangerous illegal cigarettes is beginning time behind bars following a joint investigation by Sussex Police and East Sussex Trading Standards.
The 12-month sentence handed to 27-year-old Jahangir Aywaz is one of the longest sentences handed down for a prosecution for illicit tobacco products in East Sussex.
Hundreds of boxes of illegal cigarettes worth more than £8,000 were seized in July following an investigation into sales of illegal tobacco at the convenience store in Brassey Parade, Hampden Park, which has since ceased trading.
Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council lead member for economy, said, “This is an excellent result for Trading Standards, and the severity of the sentence should send a clear message to anyone involved in this kind of activity.
“Selling illegal tobacco products of unknown origin not only costs all of us in unpaid taxes, it also puts people’s lives at risk.
“This prosecution is a boost to all the honest shopkeepers whose businesses are unfairly affected by unscrupulous traders.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work of our Trading Standards officers and to Sussex Police for their unstinting support for our efforts to stop the sale of illegal tobacco in East Sussex.”
PC Rachel Bourne of Eastbourne Neighbourhood Policing Team, said, “This was an excellent example of agencies working together to resolve what has been a growing problem in the Hampden Park area. It was due to intelligence from the Hampden Park community that we were able to act on information and prosecute the offender and this result sends out a clear message to those people who commit such offences that it will not be tolerated.”
Aywaz admitted charges of participating in a fraudulent business involving the sale of illegal cigarettes and possessing for supply and supplying cigarettes and tobacco which did not bear the required health warnings.
Some of the cigarettes seized were also a fire hazard as they failed to comply with the requirement to self-extinguish when left unattended.
The defendant, who pleaded guilty in a previous hearing at Hastings Magistrates’ Court, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court.
Anyone who knows of illegal tobacco sales in East Sussex is asked to contact Trading Standards on 0345 608 0197 or Sussex Police on 101 or via e mail at http://www.sussex.police.uk/help-centre/re. Alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.