A SHOP owner and his employee have been sentenced for their involvement in selling contraband tobacco.

Kosar Othman Mohammed, 39, of Cranemoor Close, Birmingham, and employee Karwan Kamil Salh, 19, of Livingstone Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to charges of sale and possession for sale of illegal and counterfeit tobacco at Europe Quality Food in Brookend Street, Ross-on-Wye.

Hereford Magistrates Court was told that Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards and West Mercia Police worked together to carry out a raid at the shop on Saturday, January 5.

Trading Standards seized about 31,000 illegal foreign non UK-duty and counterfeit cigarettes.

Magistrates viewed the matter as serious and handed down community penalties to Mohammed and Salh of 240 and 180 hours unpaid work respectively. Both men were ordered to pay £983 each in costs.

Europe Quality Food is currently subject to a three-month closure notice imposed by Hereford Magistrates Court on Tuesday, May 7.

Breaching a closure order is a criminal offence, and anyone that attempts to use the shop could be arrested.

The sale of illegal tobacco seriously damages honest local businesses, and the cheap availability of illegal cigarettes makes it easier for young and underage people to become addicted.

People are urged to contact Trading Standards on 01432 261761 if they have information regarding the sale of illegal tobacco in Herefordshire.