Illicit Tobacco Dealers Sentenced

Friday 24 December

A second individual was today sentenced for his part in the supply of illicit tobacco from the business Kingsgate News, 14 Cross Church Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2PT. Following test purchases and seizures of illicit tobacco from the business and a residential address, two of the owners were brought before Kirklees Magistrates court to answer the charges brought against them.

On the 23rd December 2021, Mr Khalid Dalish from Huddersfield appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court for selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from the same business when he had taken over as owner. Mr Dalish had previously been found guilty in his absence and was sentenced to a 12 month community order with a requirement of 250 hours unpaid work, £750 contribution towards prosecution costs and forfeiture of all the articles seized.

On the 1st October 2021, Mr Omed Omar from Huddersfield appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court for selling illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from Kingsgate News. Mr Omar pleaded guilty to committing offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and carrying on a business contrary to section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006. He was sentenced to a 12 month community order with a requirement to perform 150 hours unpaid work. Mr Omar was also ordered to make a £500 cost contribution, due to his current financial circumstances and pay a £90 victim surcharge.

The shop was well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) with the Service having received complaints about the premises supplying illicit and duty free tobacco.

An inspection was carried out at Kingsgate News in September 2019 and illicit tobacco was seized from within the business. A search of the store was conducted and two concealments of illicit cigarettes were found hidden in wall voids. Another concealment was found in the wall just off the sales area, at the base of the stairs leading to the first floor. This contained packets of cigarettes of various brands. There was also a concealment containing sleeves of cigarettes which held 10 packets each, in the wall of one of the first floor rooms. The total amount of tobacco items seized was 407 x 20 packets of cigarettes and 50 x 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco.

The seized illicit tobacco products were counterfeit, did not bear the statutory health warnings, were not in the standardised packaging and were non duty paid. Warnings to stop the illegal activity were ignored and in October 2019 illicit tobacco was again seized from inside the business.

In the small storage area just off the sales area a black screw was noticed protruding from the ceiling above the stairs, leading down into the cellar. This screw was not protruding like this when the store was last inspected in September. Closer inspection of this area revealed it had been adapted to hide a concealment of illicit tobacco. The concealment was in the form of a draw which slid out on runners into the stairway when you pulled on the screw. The total amount of tobacco items seized was 60 x 20 packets of cigarettes and 3 x 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco.

The total amount seized was over 9,000 cigarettes and more than 2.5kg of hand rolling tobacco.

On 3rd March 2020 a Trading Standards Officer in plain clothes attended the store to make a test purchase. A counterfeit packet of 20 Richmond cigarettes was purchased for £4.00.

On 6th March 2020 Trading Standards and Police Officers conducted an inspection visit at Kingsgate News. Present and working at the store was Mr Dalish. A search of the store was conducted but no illicit tobacco was found. The police recovered a large quantity of illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco from his home address. The total amount was 2,660 x 20 packets of cigarettes and 373 x 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco.

The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, funded by the five Public Health departments, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The initiative uses multi-agency enforcement and community marketing campaigns to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.

To date, the programme has taken more than 8 million illicit cigarettes and more than two and half tonnes of illicit hand rolling tobacco off the streets of West Yorkshire. With more inspections planned in the coming weeks, these figures are set to increase. Training sessions with thousands of members of the public and hundreds of front line professionals have been delivered to raise awareness about the dangers and wider criminality associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.

Linda Davis, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Manager said, “This case shows how seriously the courts view these sales and this should serve as an example to others who might break the law and risk children's health. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth billions of pounds. Victims of human trafficking are often being forced to sell these illegal products in order to pay off debts, fearing harm to themselves or their families.”

Councillor Habiban Zaman, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “All tobacco is harmful, but illicit cigarettes seriously undermine our drive to reduce smoking, fuel organised criminality and are often a gateway for our young people to be addicted to the habit which prematurely kills over half its users.”

If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco please contact the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report it at https://keep-it-out.co.uk/ anonymously.

More information about the campaign can be found on the website and anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at

https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree