A MAN held after a Customs raid on a Huddersfield shop where contraband cigarettes were seized has escaped jail.
Dana Ahmed, a 22-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker, has been ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work for the community.
But unemployed Ahmed, who was detained during a swoop on John William News in the town centre in August 2009, will not have to pay any of the £5,000 it cost to prosecute him because he has no money.
Ahmed, of Springdale Street, Thornton Lodge, Huddersfield, had been seen walking between the shop and a parked car on the morning of the raid which was carried out by officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the police.
Prosecutor Howard Shaw told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that when the officers raided the shop later that afternoon they seized a quantity of illicit cigarettes, but the shop owner could not be found.
Ahmed was detained in the area and found to have the keys to the car which was parked nearby.
Inside the car, officers recovered thousands of cigarettes including a quantity of counterfeit cigarettes which bore unauthorised trademarks.
Ahmed, who had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty at trial to five charges relating to the unauthorised use of trademarks involving more than 100 packets of cigarettes and over 50 pouches of tobacco.
Mr Shaw told the court that the cigarettes and tobacco referred to in the charges could have been sold for £638.
Judge Peter Benson was told that Ahmed, who receives no benefits or food vouchers, had elected trial by jury at the crown court and that had led to the costs of prosecution increasing significantly.
The judge concluded that Ahmed had no means to pay any of the costs.
“You've pleaded guilty on the basis that you were holding onto the cigarettes on behalf of the shop owner and that role is accepted by the prosecution”,Judge Benson told Ahmed through an interpreter.
“You're an asylum seeker who has applied to stay in this country and that process of assessment is continuing. You have no means in the meantime.
“It seems to me that for these offences a community penalty is appropriate.”Customs officers had alleged the dodgy goods were being sold under the counter at well below market value.