A STRUGGLING shop boss sold illicit tobacco products when he saw an opportunity to make cash from the local Eastern European community, a court heard.

Asif Mahmood Akhtar, 35, supplied cigarettes without proper safety warnings in English and counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco from his store, Europa, in Colne Road, Burnley.

He stood to net himself more than £1,000 by selling his stock of almost 300 illegal products at half the price of genuine goods or less, also cheating the taxman out of £800.

The town's magistrates were told how Akhtar was caught in two test purchases by the Trading Standards Service.

On the first occasion, a routine check, a volunteer had asked a worker if they had any Polish cigarettes He was offered two packets of £3.50 Jin Ling, which are specially made for sale on the black market.

Like fake cigarettes, they are manufactured without any control over what goes into them. Neither was properly marked with health warnings.

Another volunteer was able to buy Jin Ling, Pect and Winston cigarettes and counterfeit tobacco, for a combined price of £18..

Akhtar, of Cardinal Street, Burnley, admitted three counts of supplying goods prohibited by safety regulations and one allegation of selling goods likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark.

The defendant was fined £160, with a £20 victim surcharge and £100 costs.

Kamran Yousaf, for Akhtar, said in recent times his business had dipped.