Shop closure extended by court following bootleg tobacco raid

A shop ordered to close after an investigation into sales of bootleg tobacco must now remain shut beyond the festive period.

The Lifestyle Express store, in Middle Street, in Blackhall Colliery, was originally closed down for three months by Peterlee magistrates in September.

During an investigation by trading standards officers at Durham County Council, illegal tobacco products were said by the authority to have been sold from the shop.

Now a court has rubberstamped a bid by the county council’s trading standards department to have the ban extended.

Bootleg cigarettes were found at Lifestyle Express, in Blackhall Colliery, following an investigation by trading standards officers.

The trading standards team said in a statement after the case: "Lifestyle Express at 44 Middle Street was ordered to remain closed by following a further application by the trading standards team, with magistrates at Newton Aycliffe finding that criminality and nuisance, previously associated with the premises, likely to reoccur if it were allowed to re-open.

“Entry to the premises by anybody other than the owner remains a criminal offence until the order expires on 15th March, 2022.”

The case followed just 24 hours after a similar application by trading standards counterparts in Hartlepool.

The Lifestyle Express store, in Middle Street, in Blackhall Colliery, has been ordered to close until December 16.

The court heard that a number of test purchases had been made at the premises and that on two occasions sniffer dogs had found illicit tobacco on site.

Senior Hartlepool Borough Council trading standards officer Neil Harrison said afterwards: “The low price and easy accessibility of these products discourages existing smokers from quitting and encourages non-smokers such as children to try it.

"This can obviously lead to addiction and the associated serious health problems.

"Legitimate retailers who comply with the law and sell legal products, also lose out to this unfair competition.”

Reports about similar activity in Hartlepool can be made to the borough council’s trading standards department by calling (01429) 523362 or by emailing [email protected]

Durham’s trading standards team added: "We are committed to supporting our county's compliant businesses and residents, and reducing the harm caused by the illegal tobacco trade.

"Anybody with information about the trade in illegal tobacco to get in touch with us anonymously by calling the illegal tobacco hotline on 0300 999 0000.”

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