Jail for shop owner who sold illegal tobacco from her Ilkeston and Heanor stores

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A woman has been jailed for four months after pleading guilty to possessing and selling illegal tobacco worth £4,600 at her shops in Ilkeston and Heanor.

Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards team brought the prosecutions following raids at Melanie’s Mini Market in Loscoe Road, Heanor and Pound Plus in Bath Street, Ilkeston, both run by shopkeeper Melanie Clinton.

Clinton, 24, of Dover Street, Derby, pleaded guilty at a hearing in February to 12 charges of selling and possessing counterfeit tobacco products, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994 and three charges of possessing unsafe counterfeit tobacco, contrary to General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

At Derby Crown Court today (Friday 17 April), Judge Burgess sentenced Clinton to four months in prison for the offences.

She appeared alongside her employee Ali Bakhtear, 36, of Brunswick Street, Derby, who had pleaded guilty to three charges of possessing and two charges of selling counterfeit tobacco at a hearing in February.

Bakhtear was given a six month community order with supervision and a 12-week curfew from 7pm to 7am. He was also ordered to pay £750 court costs.

Clinton ran both the shops and Bakhtear was working in the Mini Market at the time the offences were committed.

County council trading standards officers, working with Derbyshire police, raided both the shops following complaints from the public and police and found illegal tobacco with a retail value of just over £4,600.

The quantities of illegal tobacco covered by Clinton’s charges were 108 pouches of hand rolling tobacco, branded as Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf and 1,246 packs of 20 cigarettes, branded as Regal, Benson & Hedges, Mayfair and Palace. The pouches were being sold for £8 each and the packets of cigarettes were priced at £3 per pack.

Bakhtear’s charges relate to 34 packs of 20 counterfeit cigarettes, mainly branded as Mayfair, all found at Melanie’s Mini Market.

In total trading standards officers seized a total of 1,930 packs of 20 cigarettes and 318 pouches of tobacco containing 50g each. The Judge ordered forfeiture of the tobacco.

Derbyshire County Council’s head of trading standards Rob Taylour said: “This is another successful prosecution for our trading standards team and sends out a strong message to traders selling counterfeit and unsafe tobacco that they will not get away with their actions.

“We always follow-up on information we get from the public and police and we want these traders to know we will catch them and we will prosecute them.2