'Legal highs' shopkeeper given suspended jail sentence
A Belfast shopkeeper has been given a six-month suspended jail sentence for having drugs he claimed to be so-called legal highs.
All illegal substances seized from Mohammad Diwan are also to be destroyed as part of the sentence imposed today.
Diwan had insisted he had no suspicion the Ocean Snow product stocked at his city centre store contained banned substances.
But a judge found him guilty of possessing Class B drugs because he continued to keep it following an earlier seizure.
The 59-year-old, of Princes Gate, Dromore, Co Down, admitted similar offences over the seizure of a separate product known as Crave.
Charges were brought against him following a police crackdown on the sale of legal highs.
Diwan, who has been trading for 20 years, now runs his Wee Carnaby Centre business from North Street.
In March 2012 Department of Health officials went into his shop and took quantities of Ocean Product.
Days later police seized 26 different types of tablets, powders and bath salts to be tested for the presence of illegal drugs.
Among the products confiscated was some Ocean Snow taken off display and put in a drawer, the court heard.
Although nearly all of the items contained no banned substances, two were found to have banned substances.
During a contested hearing at Belfast Magistrates' Court last month Diwan said he had received assurances from suppliers that they were all 100% legal.
But he accepted some of the products were not fit for human consumption.
He claimed customers may have been buying them for souvenirs.
The court also heard that during police questioning he described some of them as "party pills" which could be used if you want to stay away at a disco.
Diwan was today sentenced to a total of six months in prison, suspended for two years. ends
Belfast Telegraph Digital