COUNTERFEIT cigarettes worth about £5,000 were found in a hidden compartment at a shop run by a Wrexham man, a court heard.

Trading standards officers discovered that 36-year-old Akram Kadir was also selling illegal packs of tobacco from the store in Shrewsbury.

Magistrates in Telford were told Kadir had been ‘led astray’ by Eastern European criminals who got him to sell the counterfeit items.

Kadir was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he admitted running a fraudulent business and eight offences of possessing and supplying goods with fake trade marks and without health warnings.

The offences were committed at a shop in Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury, between December, 2016 and February last year.

Iraqi-born Kadir, of Chester Street, Wrexham, was also ordered to pay £350 costs and a £115 court surcharge.

Mike Davies, prosecuting for Shropshire Trading Standards, said Kadir had opened the shop in November 2016 and suspicion was first aroused a few days before Christmas when officers visited the shop.

He said they returned with police on February 7 last year to find Kadir running the store when a suspicious pack of biscuits was found behind the counter.

“Inside the packet was a key fob which when pressed revealed a secret compartment behind the counter,” he said.

A search uncovered 144 packs of cigarettes and 18 packs of rolling tobacco and more counterfeit products were recovered from a van at a flat in Shrewsbury for which Kadir had the keys.

It was estimated the counterfeit goods would have made £5,000, which would cause t a £3,600 loss in excise duty.

Adrian Roberts, for Kadir, said his client, who came to the UK in 2002, had no previous
convictions and had intended running a legitimate business.

He said Kadir had been ‘led astray’ by a group of experienced Eastern European criminals who were understood to be Polish and who had supplied the counterfeit goods.

“They told him if he sold certain brands of cigarettes and tobacco people from the local Eastern European community would buy them and they would split the profit,” he said.

Mr Roberts said Kadir’s parents were still living in Iraq, and he was supporting them from his income.