Smuggler sentenced for illegal cigarette haul

A  smuggler who was stopped at a ferry port with a people carrier crammed full of 28,000 cigarettes was given a suspended prison sentence today.

According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Karl Hansen, 47, from Stockton-on-Tees, was found with almost 450 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco as well as the cigarettes when he was stopped at Poole Ferry Port, in Dorset.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Hansen was stopped on October 3, last year, by officers who found the roof-box on his Chrysler Grand Voyager stuffed full of smuggled cigarettes with large quantities of tobacco hidden under blankets and crammed beneath the back seats.

The car had arrived in Poole by ferry from Cherbourg, in France.

Hansen, a tiler, of Kennedy Gardens, Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, admitted evading around £71,000 in excise duty last month.

Today he was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years. He was also given a three-month curfew order, restricting him to his home address between 9pm to 7am, ordered to pay £250 costs and had his vehicle forfeited.

According to the revenue, Mr Recorder Abbott told him: “If the cigarettes had been allowed through, the Government would be short-changed and the money has to come out of everyone else’s pockets.

“70,000 might not seem much in the big scheme of things but, if everyone did it, the Government would lose an awful lot of money.”

HMRC Senior Criminal Investigator Derek Brooks, said: “Cigarette smuggling is not a victimless crime but theft from law abiding UK residents.

“Had these cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco been sold on the UK black market the Government would have had £71,000 less to spend on public services like schools and hospitals.

“Our investigators will not hesitate to pursue such criminals who try to import unlicensed and unregulated tobacco products.”

The confiscated cigarettes – which were Lambert & Butlers and John Player Special Reds – were burned at a power station to fuel the national grid along with the Turner tobacco, an HMRC spokesman said.

source: thenorthernecho.co.uk

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