THOUSANDS of smuggled cigarettes seized in raids this year have cost Spalding off-licence Euro Mini Market its drinks licence.
The shop had a purpose built concealed store for selling non-duty paid cigarettes, which was uncovered by a sniffer dog on February 8 in a joint swoop by police, trading standards and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
A further smuggled 1,340 cigarettes were found just 12 days later and there was another haul of 5,580 non duty paid cigarettes discovered in April.
Lincolnshire Police – supported by county trading standards officers – made a successful application on Monday for the mini market to have its drinks licence revoked.
South Holland District Council’s licensing panel heard two hours of evidence behind closed doors before publicly announcing its conclusion.
Those attending included police and trading standards officers as well as the shop’s designated premises supervisor, Mohammed Mahmmud, and a Kurdish interpreter who translated proceedings for Mr Mahmmud.
Licensing panel chairman Coun Malcolm Chandler said the panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that “potentially criminal” activities had been going on at the premises – and there were no conditions that could be added to the licence which would resolve that situation.
Coun Chandler told Mr Mahmmud the revocation would take effect 21 days from that day or pending the expiry of any appeal made to the magistrates’ court.
Written evidence before the committee described how the purpose-built store was underneath the official cigarette display case – and was accessed by pulling on false power sockets to reveal a hinged door with the cigarettes behind.
Details were also given of cheap foreign brand cigarettes sold to test purchasers sent in by trading standards, including two 16-year-olds.