Jail for Irish mastermind behind horde of SEVEN MILLION cigarettes smuggled into Britain

Jail for Irish mastermind behind horde of SEVEN MILLION cigarettes smuggled into Britain

AN IRISHMAN described as the mastermind behind a horde of 7million cigarettes illegally smuggled into Britain has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

James Duffy, 48, of Dundalk, Co. Louth and Russell King, 56, of The Green, Barnsley, illegally imported cigarettes worth £2,001,292 in unpaid duty.

At Leeds Crown Court in England today, Duffy was sentenced to 18 months after admitting excise fraud.

The Irishman is already serving a six-year sentence handed down in May 2018 over his role in a separate £2million tobacco smuggling conspiracy.

Duffy, left, and accomplice Russell King (Imaes: HMRC)

CCTV evidence showed King unloading the 7million cigarettes at a storage unit in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in June 2016.

Duffy, who arranged the smuggling and delivery of the illegal goods, was also present.

A week later King was observed overseeing the delivery of a further 440,000 illegal cigarettes to a commercial property in Sheffield.

HMRC officers swopped on King at the Barnsley site, where he was caught red-handed with the illegal goods.

Some of the cigarettes seized (Image: HMRC)

“This was a shameless attempt to put millions of illegal cigarettes on the streets and deprive the UK of money which should be used to fund our public services,” said Eden Noblett, Assistant Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service.

“They thought they could get away with it, but they were wrong. Duffy now has even more time behind bars to look forward to.

“HMRC will pursue criminals like King and Duffy who think it is acceptable to deal in illegal tobacco.

“The duty evaded was enough to pay the salaries for 91 South Yorkshire trainee firefighters for a year.”

Duffy’s 18-month sentence will run consecutively to his six-year sentence.

King, who also admitted excise fraud, was sentenced to 28 months in prison at Leeds Crown Court today.