A SHOPKEEPER who was found in possession of thousands of packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco which breached trading standards regulations claimed they were for his own use.

Blackburn magistrates heard Saqib Ali, who owns Faisal Mini Market, claimed he had an annual income of less than £6,000, but admitted to investigators he had paid £1,500 cash for the bulk purchase.

Ali, 41, of Chapel Street, Brierfield, pleaded guilty to supplying 3,490 packets of cigarettes which were not in plain packaging, the same charge relating to 166 packets of hand rolling tobacco, possessing packets of Mayfair cigarettes and Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco which carried false trade marks and possessing 713 packets of Richmond cigarettes, 21 packets of Regal cigarettes and 115 packets of Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco bearing false trade marks. He was made subject to a curfew for 12 weeks between 9 pm and 7 am, fined £105 and ordered to pay £940 costs and £30 victim surcharge.

Passing sentence the chairman of the magistrates said there was a substantial risk to the people who bought the products because nobody knew what was in them.

"There is a loss of revenue to the exchequer and the possibility of damage to the reputation of the companies that own the trade marks," said the chairman.

"We accept what you solicitor says about your income of just over £5,000 but we have also noted that you paid £1,500 cash for the products."

The magistrates ordered the forfeiture and destruction of all the products seized by trading standards.

Nick McNamara, prosecuting for Lancashire Trading Standards, said warrants were executed after the authority received intelligence that Ali was selling illegal tobacco products.

Mr McNamara said over 3,600 packets were seized and there were 18 different brands among them.

"The trademarks were examined and over 1,000 were found to be counterfeit." said Mr McNamara.

He said Ali had a previous conviction in 2011 for selling 22 packets of cigarettes when he was fined £300 and one in 2012 involving five packs for which he was fined £500.

Waseem Chowdhary, defending, said his client accepted the products had not been for personal use.

"After initial prevarication he fully co-operated with the investigation," said Mr Chowdhary.

"He no longer sells tobacco products from his shop.

"At the time of these offences, in March of last year, he says he was under financial stress and wasn't thinking ."