Posted: Mon 4th Mar 2024

Chester shop owner sentenced over rat infestation and counterfeit cigarettes sales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The owner of two stores in Chester has been sentenced for offences ranging from food safety and hygiene to illegal tobacco products and trademark breaches at Chester Crown Court.

At a previous hearing in the Magistrates Court, the case was referred to the Crown Court for sentencing due to the seriousness of the offences.

On Wednesday, 28 February, Victor Vimakshan (29), of Watling Court, Great Boughton, sole company director of Today Choice UK Ltd, trading as Chester Booze and Chester Convenience Stores, was handed a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity days.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £6,400 in fines, plus £6,000 towards costs.

During inspections, food safety and hygiene officers found the premises to be dirty with a rat infestation which posed a significant risk to health.

Counterfeit cigarettes and vapes containing five times the recommended amount of nicotine liquid were seized.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Homes, Planning and Safer Communities, Councillor Christine Warner said:

“Officers in our Public Protection Service work proactively to help business owners comply with legislation and meet hygiene standards and food safety.

“The vast majority of food establishments in Cheshire West operate to a high standard; we have a duty to the public to take effective action where others do not make the same effort.

“In this case officers witnessed poor conditions that posed a risk to the public and the penalties imposed send a clear and strong message that the courts will treat such situations seriously.”

In his sentencing remarks, the Judge said:

“Cheshire West and Chester Council have trading standards and food hygiene departments which take seriously their responsibilities in this city and this county.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council operate a paid for advisory service for all food businesses called the ‘GET5’ scheme.

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