Lincoln landlord ignored criminal activity for years

A Lincoln landlord has been sentenced in court for ignoring criminal activity at his High Street shop for years, in the first ruling of its kind in the country.

Leonardo Viscomi, 61, of Malham Drive was prosecuted at Lincoln Crown Court for knowing that his shop European Foods was being used illegally.

Trading Standards found that the shop had been selling illegal tobacco and alcohol in 2014 and told the landlord on numerous occasions.

Judge Watson told the court that Viscomi knew of the criminal activity and was warned about prosecution if he continued to accept rent payments.

Tenants created places to hide cigarettes and alcohol.

He handed Viscomi a suspended sentenced, ordered him to do 150 hours of unpaid community work and will have the rent paid to him over the past six years confiscated.

Andy Wright, principal trading standards officers for Lincolnshire, said: “This is the first prosecution of its type in the country.

“For many years we have been taking prosecutions against those running businesses, but with very limited success.

“As we’ve seen, there’s always someone willing to take over the lease with little change in the type of goods sold so nothing seems to ever change.”

Officers uncovered illegal alcohol and cigarettes.

Lincoln Crown Court heard how Viscomi was given detailed information about what was happening at his shop over a number of years.

Trading Standards has vowed to take action against other shops which are allowing illegal activity across Lincolnshire.

Andy Wright continued: “Moving forward the prosecution of the primary offender with continue but detailed information will also be sent to the owner of the building who receives rent from those tenants.

They hid cigarettes.

“We are aware of premises across the county which have an extensive history of criminal activity involving illicit cigarettes and alcohol. Some of those landlords have already been contacted.

“It is our intention that all will be made aware of what is happening at their premises in the same way as we did with Viscomi.”