Shopowner admits selling counterfeit cigarettes from Great Yarmouth shop
- Credit: James Bass
A shopowner has admitted selling fake cigarettes after raids at his Great Yarmouth store uncovered hundreds of illegal products.
Ako Garib appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday, more than four years after searches of the International Food Store, on St Peter's Road, found 110 pouches of tobacco and 205 packets of cigarettes on March 1, 2013.
Garib was cautioned but, after a second search uncovered 158 packets of cigarettes and 53 pouches of tobacco on April 10 2013, he was charged with unauthorised use of a trademark.
David Wilson, prosecuting, said: 'Information had been received by Trading Standards that the shop was offering counterfeit tobacco products and, when officers attended, they found packets of Golden Virginia tobacco that did not carry a health warning.
'From the second search, it was quite clear trading had continued in that manner, and they were becoming increasingly inventive with their hiding places.'
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Garib, 43, was initially due to appear at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on April 7, 2015, but failed to attend after returning to Iraq to care for his ill mother.
Andrew Oliver, defending, said: 'Garib had been working in a potato factory for ten years after first coming to the UK in 2002 following the troubles in Iraq.
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'He moved to Great Yarmouth because his uncle offered him a job, but on the condition that the shop was registered in Garib's name.'
Garib, now of Burghley Road, Peterborough, was charged with 18 counts of unauthorised use of a trademark, and was handed a four month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the next 12 months.
No separate penalty was given for failing to attend court in 2015.
Judge Maureen Bacon said: 'I accept you had a compelling reason to return to Iraq and you surrendered at the first opportunity upon your return in January 2018, but these offences are serious.
'Trademarks are there so the public understand what they are buying, that it contains what it is supposed to, and it is the right quality.
'Particularly with tobacco products, it is important health warnings are on the products.'