Shop ordered by court to close for three months over bootleg cigarette sales

A shop has been ordered to close for three months by a court following sales of bootleg cigarettes and tobacco.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:48 pm
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:52 pm

The Lifestyle Express store, in Middle Street, in Blackhall Colliery, was shut until the middle of December following an application by Durham County Council’s community protection team.

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.

A statement from the council added: “Warrants were also executed in Blackhall and at addresses in Middlesbrough on 8 September and a substantial quantity of tobacco products and cash were seized.

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

"Two men arrested during that operation were interviewed in connection with alleged offences of conspiring to supply counterfeit tobacco products and money laundering and were released under investigation.”

“Peterlee magistrates heard evidence from the council following which they concluded that the criminal activity would continue if the application was not granted."

The court order means the store must remain closed until December 16.

Owen Cleugh, the county council’s public protection manager, said afterwards: “We are very pleased with the magistrates’ decision.

“Selling illegal tobacco often goes hand-in-hand with other forms of criminality, makes it easier for children to smoke and affects those retailers who operate within the law.

“Our officers are committed to reducing the harm of the illegal tobacco trade and I would urge members of the public to continue reporting it to us so that we can take the appropriate action.”

Anybody with information about illegal tobacco sales can provide it anonymously by calling 0300 999 0000 or by logging on to www.keep-it-out.co.uk .