A retired Doncaster man has been sentenced after being caught with smuggled tobacco worth more than £230,000 in evaded tax.
Donald Andrew, 64, of Wensley Crescent has been given a suspended prison sentence after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs(HMRC) into the 900kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco found in his van.
Andrew 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.
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 said he’d hired a van ‘once a couple of years ago’ but checks revealed he hired vans eight times in two months in early 2016.
Mobile phone checks revealed the retiree had 50 text messages and phone calls with a contact including a flurry of missed calls after his arrest.
Andrew said the phone contact was a friend but did not know where he lived, what his surname was, what job he did, if he was married or any other detail about him.
He admitted excise duty evasion at Derby Crown Court on 12 July and was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and eight days rehabilitation, at the same court on 14 August.