Adventure ends for day-trip tobacco smugglers!!!
Three men from Essex, who masqueraded as day-trippers on coaches to the continent to smuggle alcohol and cigarettes back into the UK, have been sentenced.
Richard Bartholomew Cheeseman, 73, Donald Francis McCudden, 67, and Ian Paul Irwin, 56, admitted evading nearly £80,000, the amount of duty due on the tobacco and alcohol purchased on their day trips to France and Belgium.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigations revealed that, between December 2013 and March 2014, McCudden and Irwin took it in turns to travel up to four times a week, smuggling alcohol and cigarettes to meet customer orders, including off licences and shops. While Cheeseman travelled less frequently he had a controlling role in the scam organising the purchase of alcohol and tobacco from warehouses in France and Belgium.
In an attempt to avoid detection the men used a variety of coach companies and boarded from different pick up points, including Thurrock Services. They also recruited other day trippers, making sure that each passenger kept within personal use guide levels, in case any of them were stopped at border controls.
At the end of each trip, the three men would travel to shops in the Southend, Maldon and Frinton areas, delivering their illegal contraband. HMRC officers caught Cheeseman and McCuddon red-handed, outside an off licence in Southend, in March 2014 with over 460 litres of wine and five and a half kilogrammes of tobacco.
Cheeseman will now be subject to confiscation proceedings.