A Sheffield man found smuggling cigarettes into the country has narrowly avoided prison.
Agostan Jozsef Bardoczi, aged 29, of Kenninghall View, Norfolk Park, was caught attempting to smuggle over 9,000 cigarettes into the country when he was stopped at Doncaster Sheffield Airport on November 25.
The telephone sales agent was found with 820 cigarettes in his luggage but his accomplice Alexandru Daniel Belea, 22, from Romania, whom he had recruited for the mission, was found with 8,400 in his suitcase, laptop bag and a carrier bag.
The pair appeared before Doncaster magistrates and admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.
An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs found the cigarettes the smugglers attempted to bring into the country were worth £3,218 in taxes.
The cigarettes were found when both men were stopped by Border Force officers on arrival from Romania.
Bardoczi was previously caught with 9,600 cigarettes at Luton Airport in August 2017 and 8,200 cigarettes at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in September 2017.
He admitted it was his idea to fill Belea’s suitcase and bags with the cigarettes, and said he planned to sell the goods in the UK.
Belea claimed his trip had been paid for by Bardoczi in return for him carrying the cigarettes.
Bardoczi was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay costs of £521, including the duty he failed to pay on the cigarettes he was caught with.
Belea was ordered to pay £3,492 costs, including £2,932 in unpaid duty.
An HMRC spokesman said: "Bardoczi and Belea thought they would get away with bringing thousands of illicit cigarettes into the UK but they were wrong.
"Those involved in the illicit tobacco trade are stealing from the taxpayer, robbing public services and undermining legitimate, honest traders. If you have information on the sale of illegal tobacco please contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."