Lincoln shop owner avoids jail over illegal cigarettes

A shopkeeper on Lincoln High Street has avoided jail for selling counterfeit cigarettes from his store.

Muhiballah Yasen, 36, sold over 91,000 illegal cigarettes and 32kg of tobacco at his European Foods store on the High Street, before being caught by an undercover officer in 2017.

Yasen, of Monks Road in Lincoln, appeared at Lincoln Crown Court on Tuesday and was given a 15 month sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work, as well as paying a £1,200 fine towards protection costs.

During his sentencing, the judge stated that Yasen warranted imprisonment for his actions, but took into account his sole responsibility for caring for his child.

The store has a decade long record of supplying counterfeit cigarettes, with multiple prosecutions from Lincolnshire Trading Standards over the years.

It was Trading Standards officers who secured the prosecution against the shop’s illicit activity, first catching out European Foods in 2017, and then again in 2019.

Andy Wright from Lincolnshire Trading Standards said: “It is important that the penalty awarded to Muhiballah Yasen is seen in context.

“It was not alleged that Yasen was the owner of the goods, nor was it alleged that he ran the operation.

“He was little more than a shop assistant which goes to show how seriously the courts view these offences.”

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