Gloucestershire

Illegal tobacco hidden in Gloucester shop

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Media captionWatch: The secret compartment

Illegal tobacco and cigarettes were hidden in a hydraulically operated compartment beneath a shop floor, a court has been told.

About £11,000 worth of counterfeit products were seized in a raid on the shop in Eastgate Street Gloucester in 2017, the city's crown court heard.

Sirwan Hussain, 37, of Damier Road, Coventry, pleaded guilty to 34 offences related to the possession and supply of counterfeit tobacco products.

He was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

The court was told police and trading standards officers discovered the hidden platform, operated by the push of a button, at the Costless shop where Hussain worked.

Recorder Llewellyn Sellick said he accepted Hussain was "just an employee" but said he was "an integral part of the operation" as he was fully aware of what was going on and turned a blind eye to it.

Image copyright Gloucestershire News Service
Image caption Sirwan Hussain was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

He pleaded guilty to 31 counts of possession of cigarettes and tobacco with false trademarks, two counts of supply of counterfeit cigarette and tobacco products and one count of supply of cigarettes and tobacco that did not display a combined health warning.

The operation was uncovered after several inspections of the shop between April and October 2017.

Recorder Sellick said the selling of illegal tobacco was "a serious problem" in Gloucestershire.

Hussain was sentenced to 18 months for each of the possession offences and to six months for the supply offences - all to run concurrently.

The shop's proprietor was charged and sentenced separately.