Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gang 'Evaded PS1m Tax by Posting Baccy Parcels from Abroad'

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gang 'Evaded PS1m Tax by Posting Baccy Parcels from Abroad'

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Lightfoot Court Reporter

A CIGARETTE smuggling network posted hundreds of parcels of tobacco from Europe to the UK evading more than PS1m in tax, a jury heard.

Smugglers travelled abroad to buy tobacco and arranged for packages to be couriered back to England for sale on the black market, Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday.

One woman is on trial of taking part in the "dodgy fags" fraud plot.

In total, 15 other people - including one man from Teesside and three generations of one North Yorkshire family - have entered guilty pleas.

Ian George Gregory, 59, of Bevanlee Road, South Bank, has admitted fraudulent evasion of duty on tobacco.

He travelled abroad with others, sent parcels and had 21 parcels of tobacco delivered to his home between November 2012 and February 2013, the court heard.

Six others admitted similar charges while eight admitted the conspiracy charge.

Prosecutor Craig Hassall told jurors: "This case is about smuggling.

"That word might conjure up images of ships pulling in close to the shore at Saltburn and casks of French brandy being spirited away beneath the cliffs under cover of darkness.

"But smugglers, as with other criminals, have moved on from those days in their methods."

He said parcels of tobacco were delivered to the homes of "a network of willing volunteers", to be unpacked and distributed.

He added: "Some aspects of old-fashioned smuggling do not change - modern smuggling is still big business.

"The overall enterprise evaded duty, or tax, of over PS1m.

"PS1m that should have been spent on schools, hospitals, the armed forces or countless other government expenses. "The smugglers put a few pence extra in the pocket of the ultimate smoker of the tobacco and a few extra pounds in their own pockets."

He said parcels containing almost 2,000kg of tobacco liable to more than PS325,000 tax were intercepted and seized by the United Kingdom Border Force between July 2012 and August 2013.

The packages were sent to addresses in the Middlesbrough, Richmond, Catterick, Darlington and Wakefield areas, with senders recorded as hotels in Belgium and the Netherlands. …

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