Man Found With False Identity Documents And Over £5,000 Worth Of Illicit Tobacco Is Jailed A man has been jailed after pleading guilty to possessing a fake driving licence and […]
A man has been jailed after pleading guilty to possessing a fake driving licence and over £5,000 worth of illicit tobacco that failed to meet health warning and packaging regulations.
Salami Husseini’s offending came to light after an eagle-eyed member of the public reported a broken down vehicle at Junction 61 of the A1(M) near Durham City to police on 13 June 2019. Husseini was seen to take boxes and a bin liner from the car and place the items in nearby bushes.
Police officers from the Cleveland and Durham Special Operations Unit attended soon after and found Husseini, who identified himself as ‘Hashin Ali Mohammed’, provided only a provisional driving licence in this name. He confirmed that the car was his but denied any knowledge of disposing of boxes at the roadside. His vehicle was seized by police officers for having no insurance.
Assistance was sought from a police dog support unit and a search of nearby woodland and undergrowth resulted in 1,600 Minsk cigarettes and 30kg (600 pouches) of Turner hand rolling tobacco being found. During a search of Husseini’s vehicle, cash totalling £1,010 was also discovered, and three mobile telephones were also seized.
Husseini, 29, was arrested on suspicion of possessing counterfeit goods and taken to Durham City Police Station, where enquiries uncovered his true identity. His vehicle was seized.
The case was transferred to Durham County Council’s trading standards team. In interview Husseini continued to deny knowledge of the tobacco products, however he admitted using the false identity document and told officers that he was travelling to Gateshead to buy a television. He declined to participate in an identification procedure and was released for further enquiries to be made.
Cash seized from his vehicle continued to be detained by the council under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Following his release from custody, Husseini, of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, contacted the investigating officer and asked to be interviewed again. This time, he admitted possession of the tobacco products but added that he was delivering them on behalf of a third party. He also stated that the money in the vehicle did not belong to him.
However, examination of the mobile telephones taken during his arrest disclosed evidence of his trade in illegal tobacco products, and he also failed to provide information about where the cash had come from. Enquiries with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) showed that he had adopted a third party’s identity and had no driver entitlement of his own.
Having pleaded guilty to offences against the Identity Documents Act, Tobacco and Related Products Regulations and Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations at an earlier hearing, Husseini appeared before Durham Crown Court by video link on 6 November 2020. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 12 months. The tobacco products, valued at £5,720 on the illicit market, were ordered to be forfeited, along with Husseini’s three mobile phones.
The cash had already been disclaimed by Husseini prior to a forfeiture hearing. Husseini, who is originally from Iran and has previous convictions for possessing tobacco with a false trademark, also faces deportation at the end of his custodial sentence.
Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “This case is an example of how our Trading Standards team continues to work with other agencies to disrupt the illicit tobacco trade and bring those involved in it to book.
“Illicit tobacco has a number of serious consequences. Not only does this case show that it is inextricably linked to other forms of criminality, it also undermines the work of stop-smoking services by frustrating price as a way of driving down smoking rates. It also affects legitimate retailers who operate within the law.
“I would like to thank the member of the public who reported this incident and would urge anybody concerned about illegal tobacco in their neighbourhood to report it to us so that we can take the appropriate action.”
Information about illicit tobacco can be given via the following ways:
The public can also follow the work of the council’s trading standards team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/durhamts