A shopkeeper selling counterfeit and illicit goods has been sentenced to 12 months community service following a Police and Trading Standards investigation.
The first hearing was held at High Wycombe Magistrates on Wednesday 19 January. Mandeep Singh-Soni (50, Southall) pleaded guilty to six counts, including one count under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, two counts under the Trademark Act 1994, two counts under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and one count under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.
Mr Soni also faced the same charges for his company GIM Enterprises Limited, to which he again pleaded guilty.
Mr Soni had first been investigated in September 2020, when Police and Trading Standards officers carried out a test purchasing operation to see whether identified premises in the Sunbury area would sell Nitrous Oxide (NOS).
As part of this exercise, two test purchasers (both under the age of 18) visited Mr Soni’s shop and were sold a box of NOS cannisters and balloons for £21.99. Following this, Police and Trading Standards Officers entered the premises and conducted a search, leading to the discovery of various counterfeit tobacco and alcohol goods behind the counter. The following was found and seized:
- 17 boxes of Mosa brand NOS canisters
- 24 loose canisters
- A large quantity of rubber balloons
- NOS canister openers
- 80 packets of 20 Benson and Hedges cigarettes concealed in inflatable ‘Boxing Tower’ boxes.
- 29 packets of 20 NZ Black brand cigarettes.
- Plus 5 packets of Benson and Hedges cigarettes
- 21 35cl bottles of Glen’s vodka.
At the hearing on Wednesday 19 January, The Magistrates sentenced Mr Soni to 12 months community service to complete a period of unpaid work for 160 hours. His company was also fined £100.
The sentencing accounted for Mr Soni’s early guilty plea, and the fact that he had no previous convictions.
Kevin Deanus, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Community Protection said: “I am pleased this reckless and irresponsible individual has been brought to justice.
“Counterfeit and illicit goods have no place here and we will continue to ensure we keep the residents of Surrey safe.
“This sentence is testament to the hard work our Trading Standards officers carried out during this investigation, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for that.”
Smoking tobacco remains the biggest single cause of preventable ill health. In January 2022 ASH released an updated ‘Ready Reckoner’, which estimated that smoking cost Surrey £314 million a year through health and social care costs and reduced productivity.
In the UK increasing tobacco prices is one approach to encourage smokers to quit and discourage young people from starting smoking. Illegal tobacco undermines this because it is cheaper and in many cases can be purchased from alternative sources making it easier for children to purchase. Increasing the number of illegal tobacco searches helps generate intelligence, which may lead to further seizures.
Residents in Surrey wishing to quit smoking can access the One You Surrey specialist stop smoking service for free by visiting: One You Surrey | Free Healthy Lifestyle Service
For more information and advice, visit surreycc.gov.uk/tradingstandards.