Mosque man jailed for tobacco and DVD scam

THE man behind plans to open Corby's first mosque was sent to prison for six weeks yesterday for selling illegal tobacco and possessing pirate DVDs with intent to sell them.

Mohammad Choudhury, 49, of Blenheim Walk, Corby, was sentenced after two separate courts heard the same case when magistrates on the first bench could not reach a decision on whether to send him to prison.

Corby magistrates were told that earlier this year Trading Standards carried out a search of a shop in Gainsborough Road that Choudhury had taken on from Corby Council. Officers recovered 6,500 illegal cigarettes and 300 foreign DVDs, including blockbusters such as Mission Impossible and The Da Vinci Code.

The DVDs bore trademarks identical, or “likely to be mistaken for” film-makers including Columbia, Paramount and Warner Bros without their consent.

The court was told that in February officers from Trading Standards went to the shop and asked a member of staff for a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, which were paid for.

When one of the officers asked for cheap cigarettes, the employee reached under the counter and produced a packet of 20 which were labelled in a foreign language and did not contain health warnings in English. The officer paid 2.50 for the packet, which prompted the later search of the premises.

The incident happened when Bangladesh-born Choudhury, a devout Muslim, was on pilgrimage to Mecca for three months.

Paul Seaton, for Choudhury, said his client had taken on the shop to provide eastern Europeans in the area with a retail outlet, but confirmed that the business was not successful and only lasted a year.

He said: “Customers were asking if he could get them videos in their own language. He was directed towards two sources in London.”

The magistrates heard Choudhury asked at a cash-and-carry where he could get cheap DVDs in eastern European languages.

ClaireBates, prosecuting for Trading Standards, said: “He purchased them for around 3.50 each and sold them at 5 or offered them for hire at 2.

“For similar DVDs at high street shops, some could be charged at around 10.”

Choudhury was sentenced to one week’s imprisonment for each of six offences, to run consecutively.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to selling a packet of cigarettes without required labelled warnings, possessing more than 400 illegal packets and four charges of having DVDs and videos against the Trade Standards Act with a view to selling them.

The prosecution said he had fully complied with the authorities.

n Choudhury made an application to Corby Council last month for three- terraced homes at Westminster Walk, adjacent to Blenheim Walk, to be converted into a prayer hall and community meeting hall.