Chorley shop Bunty's stashed illegal tobacco in bin bags - next to incriminating handwritten lists

Bunty's
Bunty's

A shop director and employee have been fined after illicit tobacco was found stashed in a bin bag.

Lancashire Trading Standards prosecuted Ramesh Varsani, the director of BR & SN Ltd, which owns Buntys on Weldbank Lane, Chorley.

Inside Bunty's after tobacco chiefs stripped it's gantry

Inside Bunty's after tobacco chiefs stripped it's gantry

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In a hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court he and the firm admitted an offence related to counterfeit products and two in relation to improperly labelled products not being in the required plain packaging.

Varsani, of Beaumont Chase, Bolton, was fined £438, and ordered to pay a £43 surcharge and £415 costs.

Assistant Karen Costa, of Balcarres Road, Chorley, admitted aiding and abetting the company’s offences and was ordered to pay a £120 fine, £30 surcharge and £345 costs.

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Prosecuting, Claire Box said: “Officers found a bin bag in the stock room which had a quantity of improperly labelled and suspected counterfeit tobacco, along with some cash, two handwritten notes seeming to relate to tobacco sales, and some medication Mrs Costa said was hers.

“In total 68 packets of illicit tobacco products were seized. 27 packets, namely those branded as Regal, Richmond and Lambert and Butler, were subsequently confirmed as being counterfeit by their relevant trademark representatives.

“Karen Costa said the packs were owned by her boss Mr Varsani and they were for sale. She said she had been told to hide them by Varsani in a telephone call just before the officer visited the shop. She said that she knew they were illegal to sell.

“Ramesh Varsani was interviewed and confirmed that the tobacco was his, but said it wasn’t for sale, as he gives it to his staff to smoke.”

Varsani claimed one of the notes found in the bin bag was written by him and one by Karen Costa, but he said the cash amounts referred to legitimate tobacco products.

He could not explain why these lists were found with the illicit products.

The court whilst smoking is an unhealthy habit anyway, there are further risks with counterfeit tobacco, as there are no controls over what goes into them.