Dodgy Leeds shopkeeper tripped up by secret cigarette stash hidden in staircase

counterfeit cigarettes hidden in a staircase by Govan Amin
counterfeit cigarettes hidden in a staircase by Govan Amin
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A dodgy shopkeeper hid cheap, fake cigarettes in chocolate boxes and a secret staircase compartment in a bid to avoid capture.

Govan Amin, 33, was found with 6,400 counterfeit cigarettes and 7.2kgs of illicit hand-rolling tobacco following an investigation by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

Undercover officers initially found Amin selling cut-price Marlboro Gold cigarettes at his shop, Mona Lisa, on Town Street Armley, following a complaint in 2013. The packets did not have the statutory health warnings.

Further inspections revealed illegal products in chocolate boxes and under plastic flowers in a store room.

Amin, of Strathmore Avenue, Harehills, initially claimed he did not know the products were banned and vowed to stop selling them.

But a further inspection using a sniffer dog uncovered more cigarettes hidden in the bottom step of a staircase.

Amin, who blamed his staff, was charged with 10 trademark and fraud offences.

He pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £200 of court costs.

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “We are committed to the fight against illegal tobacco. By taking tough action and working with partners this operation has taken a significant amount of illegal tobacco off the streets.”

Coun Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said: “The supply of illegal tobacco remains a problem in our local communities.

“While we know smoking kills, illegal tobacco is a danger to health, particularly to young people, as it is sold at pocket money prices, making it easier for children to start smoking.

“It also encourages other crimes in our communities.”

Last week more than 70,000 illicit cigarettes were seized in raids on 20 shops in Harehills and Beeston.

To report illegal tobacco sales call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.