A CONSTRUCTION worker who hid a stash of 6,260 non-duty paid cigarettes in a food shop has been hit with a fine.

Christian Sagau, of Railway Road, Leigh, was fined £422 at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, November 21, after admitting evading excise duty on £1,991.

This follows two bags, including 700 grams of hand rolling tobacco, being found in a kitchen at the rear of a shop on Leigh Road by HM Revenue and Customs.

The shop owner said he found the bags while cleaning and contacted HMRC and put them in the kitchen as he did not know who they belonged to.

Sagau, 46, returned to collect the bags the day after the HMRC visit.

He told investigators he hid the bags in the shop because he saw police officers in the area and didn’t want them to be confiscated.

He said the cigarettes and tobacco were his and were sent to him by a friend in Romania.

A HMRC spokesperson said: “Sagau thought he was clever stashing his illegal cigarettes in a shop to collect when the coast was clear. He was wrong.

“The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year.

"This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders. We ask anyone with information about suspected tax fraud to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788887.”