A SHOPKEEPER has denied selling thousands of fake Regal, Mayfair and Richmond cigarettes following police raids on his premises.

Lokman Kamala arrived at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday facing 16 separate charges all relating to the sale of fake tobacco products.

The charges included 12 counts of possessing goods with false trade marks – such as Regal, Mayfair and Richmond cigarettes as well as packs of Amber Leaf and Golden Virginis rolling tobacco – and putting them up for sale.

He also faced three charges of selling products without the proper health warnings on the packets and two counts of selling a dangerous product.

Speaking through an interpretor, the 39-year-old entered pleas of not guilty to all 16 charges brought against him.

Outlining the facts of the case, Andrew Perriman, prosecuting on behalf of Middlesbrough Council, said Kamala was the owner of Local Mini Market on Beaumont Road, Middlesbrough.

He said that on April 26 last year, a raid on the premises by police and trading standards had uncovered 1,700 illicit cigarettes and 1.1kg of rolling tobacco at the store.

A second raid on June 6 2018 uncovered a further 2,500 falsely labelled cigarettes and another 1.25kg of counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco.

Then on July 2, Kamala was pulled over in his vehicle which was searched revealing further cigarettes and tobacco.

Mr Perriman said: “It was found to have 5,380 cigarettes and 2.75kg of hand rolling tobacco all of which were in breach of labelling requirements.

“And of those, 3,580 cigarettes were counterfeit.”

He said the remaining cigarettes would have been legitimately “made for other markets” and then smuggled into the UK.

He added that in total, police had uncovered 7,960 illegal cigarettes and 4.1kg of rolling tobacco.

Mr Perriman said the charges regarding selling a dangerous product were brought because the recovered cigarettes lacked the UK-standard reduced ignition propensity strips that cause legitimate brands to burn out safely if left unattended.

Kamala, of Kensington Road, Middlesbrough, will stand trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on July 17.

He was released on unconditional bail until that date.