June 20 2013 Latest news:
Monday, May 7, 2012
Lorry drivers George Blackburn and Naythen Smith both behind bars
Two men have been jailed for attempting to smuggling almost six million cigarettes into the UK and cheat the taxman of more than £1 million.
George Blackburn, 47, was arrested on January 8, 2010, after the lorry he was driving was stopped by UK Border Agency officials, as he arrived at Dover on a ferry from Calais.
Paperwork provided by Blackburn, of Sea Shanty, Third Avenue, East Church, Sheerness, showed there were 41 pallets of onions in the trailer of the lorry. Officers carried out a search of the trailer and found almost six million CT Gold cigarettes hidden in cardboard boxes.
The duty evaded on the cigarettes was £1,019,118.10.
An investigation by HM Revenue & Customs uncovered evidence that linked Naythen Smith, 46, of Mangravat Avenue, Maidstone, to the smuggling attempt.
Lorry driver Smith, had travelled on the same ferry as Blackburn, and phone records proved they were in regular contact throughout the trip to Belgium.
At Maidstone Crown Court, both men pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty chargeable on tobacco products.
Blackburn was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment, and Smith was given to three years behind bars.
Martin Brown, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC said: “The motivation of Blackburn and Smith was pure greed. Had the smuggling attempt been successful it would have deprived the Exchequer of over £1m.
“This tax is essential to fund public services such as schools and hospitals and any shortfall would have to be made up by honest taxpayers.
“These sentences will send a message to anyone involved in this type of crime, we are determined to find and bring to justice those people who think they can break the law. Tobacco fraud costs honest taxpayers more than £2bn a year, undercutting honest businesses.”
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