Shopkeeper who sold £100k worth of illegal tobacco in Ipswich escapes prison term

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A “greedy” Ipswich shopkeeper who sold illegal tobacco has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Hedi Ibrahim, who ran the IKI grocery store in Franciscan Way, sold more than £100,000 worth of hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes under the counter over a period of around five months last year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Ibrahim, 32, of Franciscan Way, admitted participating in a fraudulent business, possessing goods with a false trademark, supplying a tobacco product not containing a health warning and offering to supply a dangerous product.

Sentencing him to a two year prison sentence suspended for two years and ordering him to do 240 hours’ unpaid work in the community, Judge David Goodin said: “You were presented with an opportunity to sell various forms of dodgy tobacco from under the counter, over the counter.”

He said the items were not properly packaged, didn’t carry health warnings and some of the cigarettes were dangerous.

He said that when Suffolk Trading Standards officers “swooped” on his shop on December 12 last year Ibrahim had made himself scarce but had subsequently contacted the officers.

He said that in his judgement the offending had continued for at least four to five months and his takings had been more than £100,000.

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He said Ibrahim had received a warning letter in July last year. “You knew you were treading on thin ice but the temptation was too much for you and you continued out of greed because of the profit that could be made,” said the judge.

He said the offences crossed the custody threshold but he felt able to suspend the prison sentence.

A hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act will take place in February.

David Wilson, for Ibrahim, told the court his client claimed he had only been selling the illicit tobacco for six to seven weeks and his profit had only been £35,000.

He said Ibrahim had lived in the UK for 15 years and was extremely remorseful for committing the offences.

He said Ibrahim’s dream was to own his own business after working for many years for other people.

“He is desperately concerned he is going to lose his business through his foolishness and an element of greed,” said Mr Wilson.