County Durham corner shop closed down after council's sting operation on business

Shildon Mini Market. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO <i>(Image: NORTHERN ECHO)</i>
Shildon Mini Market. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

A County Durham convenience store has been ordered to close after suspected illegal tobacco was found on the premises.

Durham County Council’s trading standards team has managed to secure a three-month closure order for Shildon Mini Market, on Church Street, from Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court.

Magistrates heard that a council officer visited the premises after receiving community intelligence that the shop was suspected to be supplying illegal tobacco.

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An employee at the shop informed the officer that the business did not sell tobacco products, however, a search of the premises found a bag containing several packets of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

According to officers investigating the case, the items did not comply with the standardised packaging legal requirements.

The employee said the items were not being sold in the shop and were for personal use.

This led to the council carrying out a 'test purchase' at the shop a few days later, which saw an employee sell the purchaser two packs of cigarettes that did not comply with legal packaging standards.

A second test purchase was carried out, and a different employee sold the purchaser two packs of cigarettes which also failed to comply with standardised packaging.

Following the judgement in court, Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco can have a devastating effect on our communities.

"Not only does it have a serious impact on health, it also brings crime and nuisance to neighbourhoods, makes it easier for children to get hold of cheap tobacco, and undermines the efforts of stop smoking services.

“We are continuing to investigate this case and will take further action if necessary.”

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