A Bristol shopkeeper has been sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work in the community at Bristol Magistrates Court after admitting possessing illegal cigarettes for onward selling at his grocery shop in the city.
Leslaw Szczypta, 41, was caught with the contraband at his U-Lecha premises in Filton Avenue on two separate occasions during visits by Trading Standards and HM Revenue & Customs officers.
Szczypta, of Cairns Road, was also found with more than £18,000 in cash and admitted nine offences at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday
Ms Shreena Parmar, Regulatory Lawyer for Bristol City Council, told the court that during the visits in April and September 2018, Trading Standards seized 1121 packs of illegal cigarettes and 60 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco, all of which failed to comply with UK health warning and packaging requirements and were non-duty paid, 53 of them being counterfeit.
Such cigarettes and tobacco cannot legally be sold in the UK, while the court also heard that Szczypta exposed for sale and sold alcohol without a licence do to so.
He was ordered to carry out the unpaid community work within 12 months, while being told to pay £4,000 in costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
Councillor Steve Pearce, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet member for Waste, Regulatory Services and Commercialisation, said: “Unfortunately, businesses that sell illegal tobacco products have little regard for the impact on their customers’ health.
“These products often contain higher rates of toxic substances and do not have the correct health warnings. Low cost tobacco products can often seem very attractive to people for at what seem like bargain prices. However, the truth is these goods have been smuggled and these sales are unlicensed and unregulated.
“This action demonstrates that the selling of counterfeit or smuggled tobacco will not be tolerated in the city and that includes anyone involved in selling them, not just shop owners."