A SHOP owner who ran a popular store in Barrow has admitted to possessing counterfeit cigarettes.

Haywa Ahmedi Mohamed, of Nuttall Road, Blackpool, ran European Food Store on Dalton Road, but when police attended a fire at the property last year, officers found packs of cigarettes imitating another brand.

This offence breaches Cumbria County Council’s Trading Standards, but officers also found packs of cigarettes that did not have the correct health warnings and were not in plain packaging – both of which break Trading Standards as well.

Last Friday, at South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court, Mohamed pleaded guilty to seven charges in relation to cigarettes at his shop that infringed Trading Standards.

In total, 934 packs of cigarettes were confiscated by police and are estimated to be worth just under £10,500.

315 of these packs were counterfeit cigarettes purporting to be from the Richmond brand. 439 packs of Pect and 180 Rothmans packs were also seized – these packs did not have the correct health warnings and were not in plain packaging.

Prosecutor Jon Farnworth told the court that Cumbria Police had found the cigarettes in a filing cabinet when attending a fire at European Food Store on April 25, 2021.

Police appealed for the owner to attend the premises, and when Mohamed, 33, turned up, he told officers that he was unaware of what was inside the filing cabinet.

Mr Farnworth then explained the Pect and Rothmans cigarettes did have health warnings, but did not comply with Trading Standards and were displayed in a foreign language.

The court heard that cigarette health warnings are also required to direct smokers to the NHS, but this was also absent.

Mr Farnworth told magistrates that the packaging did not comply with trading standards either.

He added: “Bold colours and bold brands stand out – they are more attractive to smokers. Plain packaging is used to stop young people from smoking. With hard-hitting health warnings, you are also less likely to pick up smoking.

“2014 research shows that effective, plain packing makes a difference as it is less aesthetically pleasing.”

Defence solicitor, Duncan Nightingale, told magistrates: “It is agreed that this is a case where you will benefit from a pre-sentencing report.

“He has no previous convictions at all and that will be taken into consideration when sentencing.”

Mohamed will now be sentenced for the offences on September 29 at South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court.

Chair of the bench, Gillian Sutton, told Mohamed that he will be interviewed by probation, with more information about the defendant needed prior to his sentence later this month.

Miss Sutton also ordered the 934 packs of cigarettes to be forfeited and destroyed.