A NEWSAGENT has been hit with nearly £5,000 in fines for stocking and selling illicit cigarettes.

Sniffer dogs found an illegal haul of tobacco during a raid on Bawa News, in Talbot Road, Stretford, Manchester Magistrate Court was told.

Shopkeeper Azam Bawa, 50, pleaded guilty to trading standard offences and was fined £4,738. He must also pay court costs of £3,500 on behalf of himself and Bawa News.

Magistrates were told Bawa, who had run the store for almost, who has run the store on his own for nearly four years, was found with 360 packets of cigarettes, containing 4,565 cigarettes in total, after an inspection in December 2018.

The cigarettes did not have the regulation packaging as required by law, the court heard, and were not displaying regulation health warnings.

Council inspectors claim the smell of the cigarette packets had been masked at the time by moth balls and incense sticks stored alongside the cigarettes – but the dog sniffed them out regardless.

Magistrates heard Bawa had also been caught out selling non-regulation cigarettes in July that year and had also sold two single cigarettes from an open packet the following October.

Bawa said he had been waiting for a company to come to take his old stock away and replace it with new stock.

He said: “Where else can I put those cigarettes? It’s not my fault.”

The defendant pleaded with the district judge to reduce the financial penalty as he had pleaded guilty and had now lost his stock.