A WOMAN from Co. Armagh, who had almost 1million illegal cigarettes stashed in an outbuilding next to her home, has been received a two-year suspended sentence.
Charlene Hughes, 36, of Foughillotra Road, Jonesborough, was found to have 953,280 cigarettes and 46.2 litres of vodka following an April 2013 search of her property by PSNI.
The goods, worth an estimated £262,699 in lost duty and taxes, were seized and the case referred to HMRC.
Hughes was sentenced at Newry Crown Court on Tuesday to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years.
Steve Tracey, Assistant Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said they were determined to crack down on tobacco fraud.
“Criminals like Hughes are undercutting hard-working, legitimate businesses who simply can’t compete with these illegal products," he said.
“Tobacco fraud costs the UK £2.5billion a year in lost tax, money that should be funding our public services.
“We are determined to disrupt and detect excise evasion. When caught, fraudsters will have their goods seized, and face a criminal record and possible prison sentence.”
Anyone with information regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco or alcohol can report it to HMRC online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.