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Underage Tobacco Supplier Says He Was Threatened By Gang Kids

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 30 NZPA - A Turangi store owner convicted for the fourth time for selling cigarettes to underage customers says he did so because he was threatened .

Sanjay Malaviya, owner of Sanjay's Selection, pleaded guilty to two charges when he appeared in Taupo District Court last week. He was fined $1500 and banned from selling tobacco products for two months.

Health Ministry national tobacco control director Ashley Bloomfield said one of the volunteers used in the sting operation was just 12 and "looked it".

"He (Malaviya) is peddling an addictive and deadly product to underage people, putting his personal profits ahead of any concern for youngsters in his community."

However, Malaviya told The Dominion Post the three boys involved in the sting continually harassed him and were "bribed" by health officials to take part in the operation.

He said the trio used to buy cigarettes from the shop when they would come in accompanied by their gang member father. After his first conviction, Malaviya said he tried to refuse them but they sent their father to threaten him.

The young brothers then began coming into the shop almost every day with a group of 10 or 12 other boys and intimidating staff and customers.

Although they had now been banned from the store, Malaviya said the brothers still loitered outside and sent in other children to get things for them.

"I do worry about our safety, especially when my children are coming home from school and these boys are there ... but I can't do anything."

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