Strabane man sentenced after coughing up to 17k tobacco fraud

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A Strabane man caught transporting 60,000 cigarettes worth an estimated £17,000 in lost duty and taxes has been sentenced to 100 hours community service.

In November 2014, Angelo Patrick McCready, aged 56, of Meetinghouse Street, Strabane was stopped and the car he was driving searched by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the Cookstown area of Co Tyrone.

When the PSNI officers served Mr McCready’s car the discovered 60,000 cigarettes inside.

McCready was charged with the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, and pleaded guilty when he appeared at Strabane Magistrate’s Court on September 10, 2015.

It’s estimated £17,000 of taxes and duties were owed on the cigarettes, some of which were in boxes marked with 821 Red Italian Blend (see picture).

Dozens of these packets were then discovered packed into cardboard boxes, which were stored in Mr McCready’s car

Whilst the seized cigarettes will now be destroyed, Mr McCready has been sentenced to complete 100 hours of community service. The sentencing took place at Strabane Magistrates’ Court on October 8, 2015.

Reacting to the sentencing Mike Parkinson, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, said: “Tobacco fraud 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.”

Mr Parkinson said anyone who has any information about the illegal trade of cigarettes or any other products should come forward to the authorities.

The HMRC fraud investigator issued the following appeal: “We urge anyone with information about the transport, storage or sale of suspected illicit tobacco to contact us on the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”