Smuggler snuggled too close to pillows

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A DONCASTER man involved in an attempt to smuggle more than a million branded cigarettes into the UK hidden in boxes of pillows has received a suspended jail sentence.

Although he was not on the smugglers’ truck when it was stopped at Dover docks, David Andrew Pollitt was tracked down because of forensic evidence.

His fingerprints were found on the cigarette cartons which, if they had got through customs, would have resulted in duty of around £189,000 being evaded.

Pollitt, aged 26, a landscape gardener, formerly of Measham Drive, Stainforth, was found guilty of fraudulent evasion of excise duty on 1,150,800 cigarettes at Maidstone Crown Court and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 280 hours of community service, wear an electronic tag during a four month curfew and pay costs of £1,000.

HM Revenue & Customs began an investigation after UK Border Agency officers stopped a man driving a lorry in September 2009, following his arrival at Dover on a ferry from Calais.

The lorry was searched and 1.15 million cigarettes were found among the boxes of pillows.

Forensic analysis proved that Pollitt was involved in packing the haul, as his fingerprints were found on the boxes containing the cigarettes as well as on the cartons of cigarettes themselves.

Pollitt was arrested and charged with the smuggling attempt last year. The lorry driver was found not guilty.

Martin Brown, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “This man was deliberately involved with the attempt to smuggle these cigarettes into the UK to evade the duty payable, without consideration for the devastating effect this type of crime has on legitimate tobacco retailers.

“The duty evaded deprives the UK economy of much needed funds for public services.”