THREE shop owners have been fined more than £2,500 after being caught selling illegal cigarettes.

Darlington Borough Council’s trading standards team carried out a test purchase operation during September and October last year after receiving complaints about the Gladstone Street Mini Market, Darlington Super Market, on Bondgate, and the Easy Shop, on Victoria Road.

The owners of the businesses - Cameron Amin, of the Mini Market; Jalal Hassan, who was the previous owner of the Darlington Super Market, and Goran Hussain of the Easy Shop - all pleaded guilty to selling the counterfeit goods.

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Magistrates fined Amin £960 for three sales of counterfeit cigarettes, Hassan received a fine of £862.50 for four sales and Hussain was fined £780 for three sales of cigarettes without the legally required warnings on the packets.

Cllr Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “Hopefully these sentences will send out a clear warning to retailers not to sell such goods.

“Trading Standards will see that you are caught and stopped.”