£26m Doncaster cig smuggler caught on Costa del Crime

John Sabin, of Doncaster.
John Sabin, of Doncaster.

A Doncaster tobacco smuggler who fled to Spain during his trial to avoid prison, has been caught and returned to the UK to begin his sentence.

John Sabin, 58, of York Road, Doncaster, was part of an eight-strong gang that transported millions of smuggled cigarettes across the north of England to warehouses, storage yards and farms with the intention of selling them at a profit and evading duty.

He escaped justice after being convicted for his part in a £26 million tobacco smuggling operation which involved more than 150 million illicit cigarettes and tonnes of low-quality tobacco. He was subsequently sentenced in his absence to two years and nine months in prison.

Sabin was added to HM Revenue and Customs’ list of Most Wanted tax fugitives. After a public appeal for help by HMRC last month, he was tracked down by Spanish police to Malaga, on the Costa del Sol, where he was working in a bar.

HMRC’s specialist Fugitive Unit worked with the Spanish police and Interpol to return Sabin to the UK.

He appeared at Derby Crown Court yesterday and was sentenced to an additional three months in prison for absconding and has now begun his time in jail.

Jennie Granger, Director General Enforcement and Compliance, HMRC, said: “John Sabin thought he could flee the country to avoid paying for his crimes. He was wrong. We have tracked him down and, in co-operation with the Spanish authorities, have brought him before the UK courts so justice can be served.”