Shop owner caught transporting 75,000 cigarettes

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A shop owner caught transporting 75,000 cigarettes, worth nearly £22,000 in lost duty and taxes, has been sentenced after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In March 2015, Joseph McLaughlin, 65, of Templegrove Park, Derry, was stopped on the Glenshane Road by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the cigarettes were discovered inside.

McLaughlin was charged with the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, and pleaded guilty when he appeared at Derry Crown Court on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The trade in illicit alcohol and tobacco is a serious crime and one we are determined to disrupt.

“Criminals are robbing taxpayers of billions each year in unpaid duty and taxes and undercutting legitimate local businesses, who can’t compete with these illegal products.

“We urge anyone with information about the transport, storage or sale of suspected illicit tobacco to contact us on the Customs’ Hotline on 0800595000.”