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A Chichester man has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for evading duty payable on 350,000 cigarettes smuggled into the UK.
52-year-old Jose Franckeiss from Kings Avenue in Chichester must also complete 200 hours of unpaid community service.
The British national, who was born in Madrid, was arrested on 16 April 2010 by HM Revenue & Customs’ Criminal Investigators, as he waited for the cigarettes to be delivered to a self storage facility in Bognor Regis.
He was charged on 17 June 2010, for evading £68,300 duty on ‘Seville’ brand cigarettes, believed to have been
imported through Southampton Docks. He pleaded guilty on 10 September and was sentenced on 8 October 2010 at Chichester Crown Court.
Upon sentencing His Honour Judge Charles Byers said:
“Those who steal from HM Revenue & Customs steal from every honest taxpayer in this country.” The Judge stressed that Franckeiss would have been jailed if he hadn’t entered an early guilty plea.
Ian Wide, HMRC Senior Criminal Investigation Officer said:
“Our investigators caught Franckeiss red-handed at the storage facility and have prevented a quantity of smuggled cigarettes from being sold on the UK’s streets. Anyone with information about illegal smuggling activities should call the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The cigarettes have been burned to fuel the National Grid.