A retired Doncaster man caught with smuggled tobacco which would have seen him pay £233,000 in tax has been given a suspended sentence.
Donald Andrew, 64, of Wensley Crescent, Doncaster, was stopped by Derbyshire Police in July last year in his Mercedes Sprinter Van at Junction 29 of the M1.
Officers searched the van and found the tobacco, which had Dutch health warnings and was worth £233,100 in unpaid UK duty.
According to HM Revenue and Customs, which investigated the case, the tobacco was packaged in cardboard boxes addressed to an industrial estate in Derby, with false documents attached stating the contents were kitchenware.
The matter was passed for investigation to HMRC and Andrew was arrested. He claimed he did not know the boxes contained tobacco and said an associate offered him £100 in a Doncaster club to hire a van and move the boxes from Derby to Doncaster. He did not know the man’s address, phone number or any details about him.
Andrew admitted excise duty evasion at Derby Crown Court on July 12 and was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and eight days rehabilitation, at the same court on August 14.
Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Andrew thought he could make easy money ripping off the British public. He was wrong and is now paying the price for his crime.
“Selling illegal tobacco takes funding from our vital public services and hurts legitimate businesses. We are determined to ensure there is a level playing field for honest, hardworking traders.
“We encourage anyone with information on the sale of illegal tobacco to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”