Ballykelly man jailed for involvement in booze smuggling

A Ballykelly man who was involved in the evasion of excise duty on large quantities of alcohol imported into the UK has been jailed after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

William Canning, 44, from Ballykelly, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, along with Kieran Patrick Hughes, 55, from Portadown, who was sentenced to six years.

Claiming to import vinegar, fruit juice, detergent and water into the UK from Europe, they avoided paying nearly £2million duty on alcohol.

David Margree, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “Over 18 months these men attempted to flood the UK with illicit alcohol, with the aim of lining their own pockets, at the expense of UK taxpayers. They hijacked details from legitimate hauliers in order to disguise the fact that they were committing fraud.

“The alcohol was sold on and the profits used to fund further criminality, undercutting legitimate retailers who could not compete with these fraudsters.

“HMRC is committed to protecting public finances from attacks by criminals and will not stand by and let crooks rip off UK taxpayers.

“Anyone with information about alcohol fraud can contact us on the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Canning, of Clooney Road, Ballykelly, was found guilty of two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to section 170 (2) (a) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

He was jailed for 12 months for one count and 15 for the second count, to run consecutively, when he appeared at Maidstone Crown court on Tuesday (May 6).