Spalding mini-market could lose licence over smuggled cigarettes

A SPALDING off-licence could face losing its licence after a sniffer dog uncovered thousands of smuggled cigarettes in a concealed cupboard.

Police have applied to get Euro Mini Market’s licence revoked after the store was found to be selling the illegal cigarettes on several occasions.

The evidence against the Station Street shop will be considered by a panel of South Holland District Council’s licensing committee next Monday.

Panel members will hear how the store was initially raided by police and officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in February, when 4,900 non-duty paid cigarettes were found.

They were discovered by a trained sniffer dog in a purpose built store, concealed underneath the official cigarette display case, which was accessed by pulling on false power sockets to reveal a hinged door with the cigarettes behind.

All of the cigarettes were foreign brands and none were UK duty paid, so should not have been on sale in this country and have since been destroyed.

The licence holder was interviewed and admitted constructing the hide.

But the licensing panel will hear that just 12 days later, on February 20, the shop was visited again by a licensing officer from Lincolnshire Police and a further 1,340 cigarettes seized from the same concealed store.

The staff member said he had been storing the cigarettes for someone to collect, but was not able to name the person.

A police statement to the hearing will say: “This serves to demonstrate that the management of the premises is ineffective in having been found selling goods for which duty had been evaded on two occasions, thereby failing to promote the Licensing Objective for the prevention of crime.”

Lincolnshire Safer Communities Services will also give evidence supporting the police application, detailing two test purchases in January and April which resulted in cheap foreign brand cigarettes being sold to members of the public, including children under the age of 16.