A SHOP owner and his manager have been sentenced after Trading Standards officers raided the store and discovered hundreds of counterfeit cigarettes.

Mohammed Ali Anwar, 42, and Mubarak Patel, 31, from Blackburn, pleaded guilty to counterfeit offences after officers discovered the cigarettes stashed away on high shelves to avoid detection by sniffer dogs.

Officers carried out test purchases at Day to Day Bargains in Blackpool on December 2 and January 8.

Both times they discovered cigarettes with false trademarks and imported cigarettes which did not bear the correct warning labels.

During the first visit they discovered 84 packets of cigarettes and rolling tobacco bearing four different false brand labels. There were also 29 packets of foreign cigarettes discovered.

Patel, of Sandpiper Close, declined to be interviewed but Anwar, of Manchester Road, Blackburn, admitted he was aware they were counterfeit cigarettes, telling officers he bought them from a Polish man for £300.

But following a complaint from a member of the public, officers called again on January 8.

Further test purchases were conducted followed by a search of the shop in Central Drive, Blackpool.

A member of staff was seen going to the boot of a car and taking counterfeit cigarettes from there - a move Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said was intended to evade the authorities.

A further 129 packets of counterfeit cigarettes were discovered along with 31 packets without safety warnings.

Recorder Gioserano, sentencing, said: "You both knew what you did and you know you shouldn't have done it.

"I am told this sort of activity is particularly prevalent in the Blackpool area.

"It undermines legitimate businesses that are trying to make a living through doing things the right way.

"You are both men with good work records and normally you do do things the right way but finding it difficult to make a profit in a honest manner you have succumbed to temptation in order to make a dishonest profit."

He handed each of the men a community order for 12 months with 150 hours of unpaid work and set out a timetable for proceeds of crime hearings.