Smuggler hid millions of cigarettes under rotten lettuce
Wednesday 26 August 2009
A lorry driver who smuggled six million cigarettes and half a ton of hand rolling tobacco hidden under rotting lettuce has been jailed for three years in Northern Ireland.
Martin Fitzpatrick, 28, from Newry, Co Down was stopped by customs officers at Dover Docks in May 2008. A search of the vehicle revealed the illicit load hidden beneath pallets of rotting lettuce.
The duty evaded on the haul was almost £1m.
Maidstone Crown Court was told that Fitzpatrick claimed his lettuce were destined for the Republic of Ireland.
However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigators established that the load was not expected at the company he claimed he was to deliver to.
Fitzpatrick of Gowan Street, Newry, had collected the lettuce from Navarra, Spain and claimed to have no knowledge of the cigarettes and tobacco.
The seizure comprised of 610,000 Mayfair cigarettes, 960,000 Palace cigarettes, 200,800 Respect cigarettes and 638.40 kgs of Domingo Azul hand rolling tobacco.
He pleaded guilty at yesterday's court hearing and afterwards Malcolm Bragg, assistant director, HMRC, said: “This was a determined and deliberate attempt to smuggle a huge quantity of illicit tobacco products. Had they reached the open market, the proceeds would have been used to finance organised crime and serve to undermine the honest traders who sell duty paid cigarettes and tobacco.
“If you buy illegal cigarettes you are directly funding criminal gangs and denying public services vital funding.”
Meanwhile over 8,000 litres of laundered fuel being sold at knock-down prices were seized at two illegal filling stations in west Belfast yesterday.
HMRC officers also removed forecourt pumps and equipment at the so-called huckster sites.
From The Belfast Telegraph
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries