A HUDDERSFIELD man has been jailed for cigarette smuggling.
Gary Holmes, 57, who described himself as a “chancer”, has been sentenced to five months in prison after pleading guilty to smuggling offences.
Holmes, of Heaton Gardens, Paddock, was stopped last April at Hull’s King George Docks after attempting to smuggle 170kgs of tobacco and 10,000 cigarettes into the UK.
Holmes pleaded guilty to the three smuggling offences, one dealing offence and one money laundering offence when he appeared at Hull Crown Court.
After the case, Peter Hollier from HM Revenue and Customs: “HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with our colleagues in UK Border Agency are committed to stamping out the problem of cigarette smuggling across Humberside in the interests of honest traders and public health.
“If members of the public know of any premises buying or selling duty free cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco where they live or work please contact our hotline number on 0800 595000.
“Help to stop the smugglers, counterfeiters and criminals, create a level playing field for all local businesses and help stop criminal profits.”
The court was told that on April 4 last year, Customs officers intercepted a lorry arriving on the morning ferry from Rotterdam. Holmes, the driver was carrying a load described on the documentation as mixed. During a search of the vehicle officers noticed some black plastic bin liners concealed in the trailer. When they opened the bags they discovered nearly 170 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco, 10,570 cigarettes and 400 cigarillos. The duty evaded was estimated as £21,800.
During his interview Holmes also admitted that he had been smuggling quantities of tobacco and cigarettes into the UK for a number of months. He said he knew that it was an offence to bring tobacco and cigarettes back into the UK to sell.
The duty evaded on these illegal goods was estimated as £61,500.
Holmes has been a professional driver for 34 years.
Judge G Robinson, sentencing Holmes, said: “The aggravating features of this case are the duration of nearly two years continuous activity, that you did it undercover of your profession for commercial gain and the amount of goods and duty involved.
“I will sentence you for the same overall time to run concurrent for all charges. With the duration of the offences and the amount of duty evaded it seems to me I cannot suspend the sentence to be consistent with my duty.
“The sentence must be immediate and is five months concurrent for each charge. You will serve half that before release on license and I will adjourn the matter of costs to the proceeds of crime hearing.”
Holmes was charged with five offences, three in relation to evasion of duty on tobacco products contrary to Section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, one offence in relation to dealing hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes contrary to Section 170(1) (b) and (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.