An unscrupulous convenience retailer who netted hundreds of thousands of pounds by using his store as a front behind which to sell counterfeit and smuggled tobacco products has been jailed for eight months.

Ashok Kumar Thapar and his store, Ashok Supermarket in Brixton, London, was the subject of a four-year investigation by Lambeth Council trading standards officers, during which he is believed to have amassed more than £289,000.

A prosecution was sought after illicit stock was found hidden under his counter in four separate raids.

Councillor Lorna Campbell, cabinet member for environment on Lambeth Council, said the case and the resulting penalties should serve as a warning to retailers that selling illicit stock was a crime which now resulted in severe penalties.

In another high-profile operation in Boston, Lincolnshire, 1,520 cigarettes and 88 litres of counterfeit vodka were seized from six stores in the town centre.

All the stores now face the loss of their liquor licences.