Boston

Prosecutions against two men have been secured after Lincolnshire Trading Standards seized more than 17,000 illicit cigarettes from a shop in Boston.

Officers from Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police raided the Europa shop on Fydell Street in Boston on June 12, 2020, nine days after a test purchase revealed illegal cigarettes were being sold there.

A second test purchase and raid then took place in March 2021, with a total of 17,140 counterfeit cigarettes and 650g of hand-rolling tobacco seized from the premises.

Over 17,000 illicit cigarettes were seized. | Photo: Lincolnshire County Council

On both occasions, Ahmed Mahmood, 22, of Argyll Street, Boston, had sold the products and was present during the raids.

At some stage between the raids in June 2020 and March 2021, 41-year-old Dana Omer, of Searjent Street, Peterborough, became the owner of the business.

At Boston Magistrates’ Court on December 20, 2021, Omer pleaded guilty to four offences for his involvement in the sale of illegal tobacco, and was fined £484.

He was also ordered to pay a £48 victim surcharge and cover £300 of legal costs, totalling £832 altogether.

Ahmed Mahmood initially pleaded guilty to 11 offences against his name, but at a court hearing on January 17, 2022, he seemed to change his story and said he didn’t know the goods were counterfeit.

The court was unconvinced by his arguments, and he was given 120 hours of unpaid work, as well as being ordered to pay £350 cost contribution and a £95 victim surcharge.

Two test purchases provided enough evidence of illegal activity at the shop. | Photo: Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire Trading Standards officer, Anna Chapman, said: “Omer and Mahmood were completely brazen in their offending; when the shop was raided, the illegal tobacco products were found simply piled up in an open suitcase in the back of the shop. They knew what they were doing was wrong but continued to peddle their illicit wares, even after the shop was first raided.

“These products are dangerous for consumers; you don’t know what is in them, and they often won’t self-extinguish making them a huge fire risk. We’ve also seen how the trade in illicit tobacco attracts other crime and anti-social behaviour to an area, further damaging our communities.

“Help us stub out illicit tobacco in Lincolnshire. If you know anything about illegal tobacco products being sold in our area, let us know.”

The mother of a man who was allegedly stabbed to death by his partner told a jury the couple would “bicker a lot”

Charlie Stevenson, 21, is alleged to have deliberately stabbed Christopher Higgs, also 21, with a kitchen knife at her home in Portland Street, Boston.

Mr Higgs, from Spalding, was found with a single stab wound to his heart after Ms Stevenson called the ambulance service to her property on July 14.

His mother, Jody Manchester, today (Tuesday) gave evidence from the witness box at Lincoln Crown Court.

Police investigating an alleged murder at the property on Portland Street, Boston. | Photo: David Dawson

She told the jury Christopher had an older brother called Charlie, and two sisters called Paris and Paige.

He grew up in Surrey, and was diagnosed with ADHD and then autism when he was 12.

“He relied very heavily on routine, things could not change,” Ms Manchester added. “He was also fussy about clothes and food.”

The jury heard Christopher was taken into care at the age of 12, but still had regular contact with his mother, seeing her six times a year.

Mr Higgs later decided to return to his family, and undertook a carpentry course, before meeting Ms Stevenson in 2018.

Officers in boiler suits at the scene of the incident. | Photo: David Dawson

Ms Manchester said: “Sometimes they were alright, but they did bicker a lot.”

Asked by prosecution barrister Christopher Donnellan QC, if she saw injuries to Christopher during his time with Charlie, Ms Manchester replied: “Yes.”

When asked by Mr Donnellan what the injuries were, Ms Manchester stated: “Black eyes, scratches down his neck, and a lot of the time his clothes were ripped.”

Ms Manchester said she had regular conversations with the couple on Facetime after they had a baby.

But Ms Manchester told the jury she did witness one incident at her home in Surrey where Ms Stevenson punched Christopher who responded by pulling her hair.

Ms Manchester said she told Christopher “to let go”, and Ms Stevenson picked up a kitchen dish which was taken off her by one of Christopher’s sisters.

The jury heard Mr Higgs was moving backwards and forwards from Surrey to his brother’s home in Spalding, while Ms Stevenson and their child were living in Boston.

Ms Manchester admitted she was aware Christopher should not have been staying at the house in Portland Street because of a bail condition from an incident involving Ms Stevenson.

The defence argue Mr Higgs could also be violent towards Ms Stevenson.

Under cross-examination from James Newtown-Price QC, defending Ms Stevenson, Ms Manchester replied: “I have never seen it, but it is possible.”

Ms Manchester admitted she was aware of occasions where Mr Higgs was alleged to have assaulted Ms Stevenson.

She accepted there was also one occasion where she had to call the police after Mr Higgs became violent towards her partner.

When asked about the level of violence between the couple, Ms Manchester replied: “It was equal.”

She also accepted Mr Higgs would regularly use cannabis.

Charlie Stevenson, 21, of Portland Street, Boston, denies murder on July 14, 2021. The trial continues.


Read more from the trial:

Building works to create new clinical and office spaces at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston are set to begin, pending approval from the council, as part of a multi-million pound project to build a new Emergency Department.

The new spaces mean some services and staff would relocate, making way for some buildings to be demolished for the new Emergency Department for Boston.

Funding for the transformation was announced back in August 2019 following a visit to Pilgrim Hospital by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Since then, work has taken place behind the scenes to finalise a design that works for staff and patients alike, with exciting plans on what the new department could bring to Boston’s healthcare sector.

The plans have been submitted to Boston Borough Council, seeking planning permission to allow the new department to more than double in size, offering more training rooms for staff, more cubicles to treat patients in, and introducing state of the art infection prevention measures.

As well as this, a separate area dedicated to providing emergency care for the youngest patients and their families has been drafted up in the plans, which will be sent to the Department of Health and Social Care for final approval if planning permission is granted by the council.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, outside Number 10 Downing Street.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive, Andrew Morgan, said: “These enabling works can be started straight away and will mean that we can then relocate some of our administration teams and some services within the site.

“This will then allow us to clear and demolish the necessary areas adjacent to the existing Emergency Department so that it can be extended and transformed.

“By doing these enabling works now, it means that once all of the necessary permissions are in place, we will be in a position to hit the ground running on the multi-million-pound transformation of the new Emergency Department.”

In the meantime, scaffolding is due to go up around the four-storey building to the left of the main hospital, allowing it to be repurposed for additional clinical and office space.

This will include renovation of three floors, upgrades to infrastructure, and controlled removal of asbestos by a specialist company.

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