Plane passenger caught smuggling 83,000 cigarettes into Newcastle Airport

Samuel Onyemenam was stopped as he entered the country on flight from Nigeria via Germany. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION.

A plane passenger was caught trying to smuggle more than 83,000 cigarettes into Newcastle International Airport.

Samuel Onyemenam was stopped as he entered the country on a flight from Nigeria via Germany.

Officers from Border Force X-rayed three of his suitcases and found that two of them were filled with cigarettes.

Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard a total of 83,600 cigarettes were found, which would have carried duty worth £28,000.

Onyemenam, of Chantry Close, in Abbey Wood, London, was arrested and pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading duty when he appeared in court last week.

The 50-year-old claimed the cigarettes were for his cousin and that he had made no financial gain from the scheme.

But his claims were not accepted by District Judge Jayne Bryan.

She said: "I don't accept what you're saying at face value.

"You're going to have to give evidence about what you're claiming. It's what we call a trial of issue and it will decide on what basis you will be sentenced on.

"I'm going to adjourn your case until 3 May back at this court. You will have unconditional bail to return to this court on that date and time. If you don't attend, a warrant could be issued for your arrest."

Newcastle Magistrates' Court was told that Onyemenam arrived at Newcastle International Airport on a flight from Nigeria via Germany on 26 November last year.

Rob Lawson, prosecuting, added: "He had three suitcases with him.

"Border Force officers informed him that they were going to X-ray his suitcases and two were found to contain a large quantity of cigarettes, 83,600.

"The duty evaded was £28,530.17."

Paul Kennedy, defending, said Onyemenam, who has no past convictions, stood by his claim that the cigarettes were for his cousin and made no financial gain.

Mr Kennedy continued: "It was an opportunistic, one-off offence."

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