Two stores in Dudley cease trading following the discovery of illegal tobacco and cigarettes

In December 2018, Dudley Council applied for a closure order under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 against European Food Express in Dudley High Street. The application was successful. Counterfeit and illegal cigarettes and tobacco had been seized from the premises in the previous two years and two people connected to the business had been prosecuted. The council recently applied to Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court to extend this order for a further three months to prevent the recurrence of criminal behaviour at the property. As a result, the shop will now remain closed whilst the council works alongside the new owners to ensure there are no illegal sales in the future.

On the same day in the Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, the owner of Dudley Stores (also operating in Dudley High Street) was found guilty of five separate offences involving the sale of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco. These included three offences relating to the possession of counterfeit brands, one offence of possessing 242 packets of cigarettes and tobacco which did not display compulsory health warnings and one offence relating to the possession of criminal property for which duty had not been paid (approximately £1,500 of unpaid duty).

These offences were discovered as a result of inspections by trading standards and police officers visiting Dudley Stores with a tobacco dog and handler. Packets of counterfeit and illegal cigarettes and tobacco were found hidden behind a mirror in the store room and others in boxes and bags at the back of the store.

The owner was sentenced to a 12 month community order, ordered to undertake 60 hours unpaid work and pay £400 towards costs as well as a victim surcharge of £85. Dudley council confirmed that the store closed down in 2017 after the landlord took action to repossess the premises due to illegal activity.

Should you have any questions about your legal obligations in relation to Trading Standards matters and need a specialist Solicitor, call James Lowe, our Regulatory Partner on 07833 240 400 for advice and assistance.