A West Bromwich shop which used a dummy electrical fuse box to hide illegal cigarettes worth £7,000 has had it licence to sell alcohol revoked.
Members of Sandwell Council’s Licensing Committee imposed a complete ban on the store selling beer, wine and spirits despite standards officers only requesting a three month suspension.
The committee heard that over 14,000 illegal cigarettes and 380 grams of tobacco with a retail value of £7,000 was seized from the Polski Sklep N1 store on the High Street in September last year.
Police and trading standards found the haul in a storeroom concealed in a false electrical fuse box.
Officers also discovered the store was selling packets of 20 cigarettes for £3 instead of the normal retail price £10.
Jaswinder Matoo, an Area Standards Trading Officer, asking the council to suspend the shop’s licence for three months, said: “It was a sophisticated attempt at avoiding detection and we would never have found them if it hadn’t been for a trained tobacco dog indicting the hiding place.”
He added: “The sale of illicit and counterfeit tobacco has a serious impact on the economy.
"Legitimate traders cannot compete with the small minority of traders who operate in the black market.
“These dishonest traders are making large profits by selling cheap and potential dangerous products without regard to public safety or tax avoidance.”
He added police intelligence showed illegal tobacco sales was seen as a low risk way of generating funds for more serious crimes.
In response, Indress Ali, said he had taken over the business in March and was now its sole owner.
Admitting he had worked at the shop at the time of the raid and had known about the illegal sales, he said: “It was a very bad mistake and I will not do the same.”
Asked what measures he had taken to ensure there was no repeat of the offences, he replied: “I want to leave the job, in the future.”
After a short adjournment, councillors revoked the premises licence to sell alcohol on the grounds of preventing crime and disorder, the sophistication of the concealment and on Mr Ali’s admission he would leave the business.