Ilford Shop owner couple who hid fake cigarettes in newspapers hit with £10,076 fine

Published: 1 November 2019

A married couple with businesses in Ilford have been fined a total of £10,076 after a haul of illegal tobacco was discovered in their shops.

Andreea Allen, owner of Lucarey Ltd, and Remus Allen, owner of Café Rey Ltd where hit with the whopping fine after more than 9000 fake cigarettes were found across their Ilford Lane based shops.

The discovery was made by Redbridge Trading Standards in conjunction with HM Revenue & Customs.

Under the joint operation, tobacco detection dogs were used to uncover the illicit haul of tobacco hidden throughout the two shops, including a ready supply in a stack of hollowed out newspapers.

Among the seized stash were counterfeit packets of cigarettes which failed to carry any mandatory health warnings, including messaging around cancer risks.

The couple, who live in Elstree Gardens in Ilford, were found to have breached a number of regulations around the labelling and packaging of tobacco, as well as the payment of duty.

They appeared in Barkingside Magistrates court on Friday 27 September, pleading guilty to all charges.

Mrs Allen, who had previous convictions for similar offences, was hit with a fine of £3000 and costs of £1030. A victim’s surcharge of £100 was also imposed. Additionally, the court also fined her company £500, with costs of £1031 and a £50 victim surcharge.

Mr Allen was fined £2100 and hit with costs of £822. A victim’s surcharge of £70 was also imposed. The court also fined his business £500, with costs of £823 and a £50 victim surcharge.

The case is the latest in a string of prosecutions by Redbridge Trading Standards as they crackdown against the sale of illicit tobacco in the borough.

Trading Standards and Public Health experts have warned that criminals are reaping in over £100 million a year from London’s trade in illegal tobacco, and undermining efforts to support smokers to quit.

Illegal tobacco sells for between a third and a half of the price of legal cigarettes. This makes smoking affordable for those who might otherwise quit, as well as make smoking affordable for younger people.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, Cabinet Member for Crime, Safety and Community Cohesion, said:

“Illegal tobacco not only makes it easier for young people to take up smoking, it also undermines people’s efforts to improve their health by giving up smoking.

“We will not tolerate these dangerous products in Redbridge and will continue fighting back to create a healthier, safer borough for our residents.

“Our message is clear, we will not hesitate to use the full force of the law on anyone caught engaging in the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco.”

Tell-tale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • Packets with foreign language health warnings
  • No pictures or old-style health warnings
  • Being much cheaper than normal cigarettes (i.e. £3.50 - £7.00 per pack of 20)
  • Branded instead of plain packaging
  • Unusual or foreign brand names, such as Jin Ling – or those from Russia and the Far East.

If residents see any tobacco products that match the description above or have information which may be useful, they are advised to call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or report it online.

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