A SHOPKEEPER who was found in possession of thousands of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes after his store was raided on three separate occasions has avoided jail.

Mawlud Sabir, of Fairhead Road, Colchester, runs Pier Avenue Stores, in Clacton, which was the subject of an Essex Trading Standards investigation from 2017 to 2019.

Over a 14-month period the convenience shop, which was suspected of harbouring illegal cigarettes, was raided three times by the Government body and HMRC. 

Tobacco detection dogs were employed to detect any hidden tobacco in specially concealed areas in the ceiling of the shop’s toilet. 

During one of the raids an unidentified man, who was in the store at the time, fled before later being tracked down and arrested nearby. 


As a result of the storming searches, more than 27,000 counterfeit and duty-evaded cigarettes were seized, in addition to nearly 23kg of hand rolling tobacco.

Sabir has now been sentenced for his role in the illegal operation after a prosecution was brought against him by Essex Trading Standards in relation to six charges.

Appearing at Colchester Magistrates Court on November 25, the shamed shopkeeper pleaded guilty to the possession of illegal tobacco with a view to supply.

Sabir escaped jail time but was subsequently sentenced to 240 unpaid hours work in the community and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs as well as an £85 victim surcharge.

Essex councillor Susan Barker, cabinet member for customer, corporate, culture and communities, hopes the sentencing will deter other likeminded criminals. 

“This sentencing sends a clear message to individuals that continue to break the law,” she said.

“Essex Trading Standards has an ongoing commitment to protecting the health of our residents and supporting legitimate businesses who are undermined by the sale of illegal tobacco.  

“Counterfeit goods have acknowledged links to organised crime and cause a significant financial detriment to the wider economy.”