Jail for shop pair who sold smuggled cigs

Police in Doncaster crack down on cycling offences.
Police in Doncaster crack down on cycling offences.

Two men found guilty of selling millions of smuggled cigarettes and thousands of pouches of illicit hand rolling tobacco from a Doncaster mini-market have been jailed for 11 years.

The duty lost on their fraudulent dealings is estimated at almost £1 million.

Nawzad Kamel Mustafa, aged 31, the owner of the Sunrise store in St Sepulchre Gate West, received six years. He lived in Cusworth House, St James Street.

Hatim Tahir Omar, aged 26, of Sandringham Road, Intake, who worked in the shop and attempted to disguise some of the contraband by fashioning it into the shape of a bed, was sentenced to five years.

A third man – Botan Aziz, aged 26, of Ferham Road, Rotherham – who grabbed a bag of contraband as officers were packing up the goods, and ran off, was sentenced to 12 weeks, suspended for two years.

After an 11-day trial at Doncaster Crown Court the jury found the trio guilty of dealing in non-duty excise goods.

Over seven months HMRC officers made four visits to the Sunrise shop and, on each occasion, seized smuggled cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco. The illegal goods were found in various places concealed in the shop including in a locked sweet cabinet, under a pile of onions, and in the sleeves of a hanging jacket.

Omar, who was looking after the shop on three of the visits, had his vehicle and flat searched and more smuggled goods were found.

Paperwork indicated that the men had been trading in smuggled cigarettes and tobacco since May 2009. It is estimated over 2,250,000 cigarettes and over 3,300 kilos of tobacco had been sold.

HMRC officer Bob Gaiger said: “These criminals, despite being warned on several occasions, continued to flout the law by selling smuggled and unregulated tobacco. Their activities made them huge profits at the expense of honest shopkeepers.”