A married couple have been fined over £10,000 after a haul of counterfeit tobacco was discovered in hollowed-out newspapers in shops they owned.

Andrea Allen and Remus Allen, owners of two shops on Iflord Lane – Lucaray and Café Rey – were slapped with the fine after council and HM Revenue custom officers found 9,000 counterfeit cigarettes.

Tobacco detection dogs uncovered the haul of tobacco hidden throughout the couple’s two shops, including a stash in a stack of hollowed out newspapers.

The counterfeit cigarettes did not carry mandatory health warnings and messaging concerning cancer risks.

The couple, who live in Elstree Gardens, Ilford, appeared at Barkingside Magistrates' on Friday, September 27, where they pleaded guilty to all charges.

Mrs Allen was hit with a fine of £3,000 and additional costs of £1,030.

A victim’s surcharge of £100 was imposed and the court also fined her company £500, with costs of £1,031 and a £50 victim surcharge.

Mr Allen was fined £2,100 and additional costs of £822. A victim’s surcharge of £70 was also imposed.

The court also fined his business £500, with costs of £823 and a £50 victim surcharge.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, cabinet member for crime, safety and community cohesion, said: “Illegal tobacco not only makes it easier for young people to take up smoking, it also undermines people’s efforts to improve their health by giving up smoking.

“We will not tolerate these dangerous products in Redbridge and will continue fighting back to create a healthier, safer borough for our residents.

“Our message is clear, we will not hesitate to use the full force of the law on anyone caught engaging in the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco.”

Trading Standards and Public Health experts have warned that criminals are making over £100 million a year from London’s trade in illegal tobacco – which sells for between a third and a half of the price of legal cigarettes.