A BUSINESSMAN who was caught with a secret stash of fake cigarettes and laughing gas canisters in a Pontypool shop has appeared in court.

Khallis Hamad was the sole director of the Ponty Market company, based in Osborne Road, Pontypool, when Trading Standards investigators found the illegal tobacco and nitrous oxide canisters behind a secret panel in the back of the shop.

Hamad, of The Hawthorns, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to five charges of selling counterfeit and foreign labelled duty avoided cigarettes and tobacco, and to illegally supplying nitrous oxide capsules, at Magistrates Court on Tuesday, February 18.

Some of the cigarette packets carried health warnings that weren't in English, and didn't have the legally-required pictures of health warnings, Torfaen County Borough Council's Trading Standards team revealed.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas because of the disorientating and euphoric effects it can produce when inhaled, is not in itself illegal; but the gas is classified as a psychoactive substance and is illegal to sell, or give away, for this purpose.

The court requested a pre-sentence probation report before giving Hamad a £600 fine, and awarded costs of £694.46, plus £30 for victim support, making a total of £1324.46.

The magistrates also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the tobacco and the nitrous oxide.

Torfaen councillor Fiona Cross, executive member for the environment, said: “I’d like to thank our trading standards team for working hard to make sure cases such as Hamad appear in court.

"The sentence is a clear indication how seriously these offences are. The sale of counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime and genuine retailers in Torfaen will continue to be protected from unfair competition posed by individuals involved in these activities.”