A man caught in a business with thousands of illegal cigarettes during a police raid returned to the property and was again raided just weeks later.
Hassan Mohamad received a suspended jail sentence in the Wangaratta Magistrates Court on Monday following the search warrants in April and May.
Police and Australian Border Force members attended Raneen Gifts on Murphy Street about 9am on April 15.
Mohamad was behind the counter and a customer was inside.
A search found thousands of cigarettes in various locations, including 175 cartons of prepackaged smokes, 18 prefilled tube packages with tobacco and 17 pouches.
All of the items were from overseas and did not comply with plain packaging rules, and had avoided excise costs.
Mohamad said he sold packs of cigarettes for $13 to $16 and had worked at the business for three months.
IN OTHER NEWS:
He said he'd never met the owner and kept the cash for himself, not realising the conduct was illegal.
Despite being arrested and charged, Mohamad returned to work and was again raided on May 19.
Another major haul of thousands of cigarettes and bags of loose tobacco was again seized.
He was less forthcoming with police on that occasion, and said he had attended the business to clean it with no knowledge of the store's contents.
His lawyer, Michael Pena-Rees said he had arrived in the country in December 2019 before taking a part time job at the store, which has been the subject of numerous raids over several years.
Mr Pena-Rees said his client was ignorant of the law, which wasn't an excuse but explained his actions.
He was concerned about the ramification the legal matter could have on his ability to reside in the country.
Magistrate Peter Dunn said he had walked past the business on the day of the court matter and noticed it was still open and still selling tobacco.
He imposed a six-month suspended sentence and ordered Mohamad pay a $2000 bond.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: