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Hunt for on-the-run lorry driver caught smuggling millions of cigarettes through Dover

PUBLISHED: 09:24 04 April 2017

Police

Police

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Richard David Curtis, 57, from Bawtry, South Yorkshire failed to attend his trial at Maidstone Crown Court

Customs officers are searching for a lorry driver who has gone on the run after being caught smuggling more than 5.7 million cigarettes into the UK.

Richard David Curtis, 57, from Bawtry, South Yorkshire, failed to attend his trial at Maidstone Crown Court and was found guilty of evading more than £1.3 million in excise duty.

He was jailed for three year and nine months in his absence.

Curtis’s HGV was stopped at the Port of Dover in November 2013 and found to contain 5,729,900 cigarettes hidden beneath boxes of frozen chips.

He told customs officers he had spent the weekend in Belgium before collecting the frozen food and said he was unaware the lorry contained illicit cigarettes.

A warrant for Curtis’s arrest was issued after he failed to appear at a court hearing in November last year.

Now HM Revenue and Customs are appealing for anyone who knows where Curtis is to come forward.

Alan Tully, HMRC fraud investigation service assistant director, said: “Richard Curtis gambled with his liberty in a brazen bid to profit from smuggling illicit cigarettes into the UK.

“He lost and now he must face up to his crime and come forward to begin his time behind bars.”

Curtis has links to Doncaster, the South Yorkshire area and Nottinghamshire.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts should contact the customs hotline on 0800 595000.

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