Takeaway boss sold cigarettes to minors

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Crime story

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A WIGAN takeaway owner caught in a trading standards sting committed the “worst example of under-age selling” by trading single cigarettes to children because they begged him, a court heard.

John Chiu, of Withington Close, Atherton, admitted selling tobacco to under-18s, plus two charges of possessing goods with false trademarks and contravening safety regulations when he appeared at Wigan Magistrates’ Court.

Alison Henderson, prosecuting for Wigan Council, said that the authority had received a complaint that chip shop Good Frydays in Market Street, Atherton, was selling cigarettes to minors.

An under-age test purchaser entered the store on June 18 and bought a packet of Palace cigarettes from the 52-year-old, which was later discovered to be counterfeit.

Officials from trading standards revisited the take-away with a sniffer dog, but the premises were closed for two weeks.

On July 2, they came back and discovered 45 packets of counterfeit cigarettes and some loose ones.

Chiu admitted that he sold tobacco to teenagers, trading single cigarettes for 20p each.

He also said that he had bought packets of cigarettes while on holiday and some were for personal use.

Miss Henderson said: “He called the conversation with the volunteer and questioned how she knew he sold cigarettes singly. He sold single ones at 20p to minors who could not afford a packet.

“He said he sold to the children because they kept asking him to give them to them.

“He denied that all the counterfeit cigarettes were for sale as some were for his own use.

“He had total disregard to the seriousness and damage to the health of others, especially the children, to whom he was selling these products.

“By selling fake single cigarettes, it is by far the worse example of under-age sales we have discovered in the borough.

“Although he admitted the offences, he did not seem to accept the consequences of his actions morally and in law.”

Speaking to the magistrates, Chiu said: “It was wrong but I was under pressure from kids mithering me and in the end I thought I would shut them up.

“I realise the consequences now.”

Chiu was ordered to pay £487 court costs, a £165 fine and a £20 victim surcharge.