A TOWN centre shop caught with illegal cigarettes twice has lost its alcohol licence

Jean Ravendran was the licensee of Havelock News in Havelock Street where police and trading standards officers found hundreds of illegally smuggled cigarettes in two raids in June.

After a visit on June 17 the shop has been restocked just a few days later, with the stash being concealed in a hydraulic lift which rose form the floor.

It was the lift which gave the three councillors on Swindon Borough Council’s licensing panel no doubt the true purpose of the shop was the selling of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

Vinay Manro, who chaired the panel said: “The application described the shop as a front for the sale of illegal cigarettes.

“The means of storage demonstrated that. That was a professionally installed hydraulic lift, a concrete floor had been dug out to put that it in. We did have questions about whether it could have been used for anything else, but it was clear that was put in specifically to store the cigarettes. We were told it would lift you up even if you were standing on it.”

Coun Manro said stopping the sale of illegally imported cigarettes was not just a matter of whether the tax was paid.

He said “The cigarettes and tobacco has been smuggled in, which is illegal anyway.

"But here in Britain we have strict rules about what can be put in cigarettes and tobacco, and rules about packaging and display.

“Some of the cigarettes and packets that were found didn’t have any English on them.”

Another factor was the fact the shop had been closed for three months by order of Swindon Magistrates’ Court, which automatically triggered the application to review the licence.

The shop building is owned by a company called Kilpatrick, which let it to Jean Ravendran, who held the licence to sell alcohol. The premises had been illegally sublet to another man, Hadi Ali.

When police and trading standards officers visited the store in June it was being managed by Moloud Kadir, who has no right to work in this country under immigration law.

There were no representations from Mr Ravendran who was not present at the meeting.

The members of the panel voted unanimously to revoke the licence.