A former convenience store trader has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after an appearance at Sheffield Crown Court today 13 October 2023.
Mohammed Ali Mustapha, age 46 of Greenwood Road, Wakefield was originally convicted of tobacco offences at Barnsley Magistrates Court on 18 July after pleading guilty to charges of selling illegal tobacco products from his shop trading as Ara, 8 Eldon Street, Barnsley. The shop has since been closed by the landlord.
The trial has been adjourned on several occasions and delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charges Mr Mustapha pleaded guilty to relate to several incidents relating to fraud and breaching packaging regulations which took place between January 2020 and August 2021.
Mr Mustapha sold packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in packets which did not comply with Regulation 3(3) of the standardised packaging of tobacco products regulations 2015, and without the necessary combined health warnings, contrary to Regulation 5(2) of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
He was also found responsible for the commissioning and installation of a concealment device at Ara in the roof and an area at the rear of the counter, with the specific intention of hiding illicit tobacco products. These were then sold from the premises, for use during or in connection with a fraud, contrary to section 6 of the Fraud Act 2006.
Cllr Wendy Cain, Cabinet spokesperson for Public Health and Communities, said: “This is the first custodial sentence on a tobacco case at Barnsley and I hope it highlights the seriousness of this type of offending and the potential consequences. Although it has taken a while to get through the judicial system, I am pleased to see that justice has finally been served in this matter.
“Trade in illicit tobacco damages legitimate businesses, undermines public health and facilitates the supply of tobacco to young people. We will keep the pressure up on those who continue to sell it.”
We can all make a real difference to help keep illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. If you spot anything suspicious you can report it in confidence by calling 01226 773743 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.