Shrewsbury shopkeeper sold counterfeit cigarettes hidden in secret compartment
A Shrewsbury shopkeeper who hid counterfeit cigarettes in a hidden compartment in his store has been given two suspended prison sentences.
Akram Kadir, 36, pleaded guilty to fraud, possessing goods with fake trade marks and supplying tobacco products without health warnings.
Magistrates sitting in Telford handed down two suspended jail sentences on Wednesday after the Iraqi-born shopkeeper admitted selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco from his shop in Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury, between December 2016 and February 2017.
He was given two 12-week sentences, suspended for two years, for fraud and a further eight offences, which will all run concurrently.
Suspicion was first aroused on December 20 when officers from Shrewsbury Council’s Trading Standards team visited the shop. They returned with police on February 7 to find Kadir, who lives in Wrexham, running the shop which he opened in November 2016.
Although they initially could not find any wrongdoing, they noticed a suspicious pack of biscuits behind the counter.
Prosecutor Mr Mike Davies told the court: “Inside the packet was a key fob, which when pressed revealed a secret compartment behind the counter.”
Police uncovered 144 packs of 20 cigarettes, 18 packs of rolling tobacco and then found more counterfeit products in a van at a flat in Shrewsbury, which Kadir had keys for.
It was estimate the counterfeited goods would have made £5,000, meaning the local authority would have missed out on roughly £3,600 in duty contributions.
Mr Adrian Roberts, defending, said that when he began his shop in November 2016 he had every intention of running a legitimate business.
He told the court: “The defendant has no previous convictions, either here or abroad.
“He came to this country from Iraq in 2002 not to commit offences but to support his family.
“His mum and dad are still living in Iraq, and he supports them with his income.”
Mr Roberts said Kadir, who also worked in a delicatessen, had been led astray by experienced criminals.
“The defendant was approached by a group of Eastern Europeans who told him if he sold certain brands of cigarettes and tobacco the local Eastern European community would buy them and they would split the profit.
“This was the arrangement for a relatively short time period.”
Mr Roberts said the Polish individuals supplied Kamir with the counterfeits and took half of the profits when they were sold over the counter.
Kadir appeared in court in October to plead guilty to one count of participating in fraudulent business, five counts of producing or supplying a tobacco product with the unit pack or container not carrying a combined health warning, and three counts of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale or Kadir was also ordered to pay £350 for the local authority and a £115 surcharge.
Chairman of the magistrates bench Jennifer Naylor told Kadir: “Due to the seriousness of these offences we believe you have passed the custody threshold.
“For the count of fraud you will serve 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, and for the other eight offences you will serve 12 weeks imprisonment to run concurrently, suspended for two years.”
Mr Kadir now plans to fly back to Iraq to live there permanently, as his wife is due to give birth imminently.
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