Bury St Edmunds: Channel-hopping pensioner guilty of fraud over sale of black market cigarettes and alcohol
PUBLISHED: 15:00 15 February 2013
A 74-YEAR-OLD man who ran a “little business” selling duty-free cigarettes and alcohol on the black market from the back of a van has been found guilty of fraud.
William Walker, who lives in semi-sheltered housing, made 22 trips to Europe in a year to stock up on duty-free tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol which he then sold for a profit, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Walker, of Beetons Way, Bury St Edmunds, had denied two charges of dealing with goods which were chargeable with a duty with fraudulent intent between October 2010 and October 2011 and was found guilty of both charges.
He denied converting criminal property and the jury was directed to return a not guilty verdict on the charge by the trial judge.
Adjourning the case for a pre-sentence report, Judge David Goodin said Walker had carried on making the trips despite being stopped and spoken to by Customs officers about duty-free allowances and appeared to think he was “invulnerable”.Nicola Devas, prosecuting, said Walker made 125 trips from Dover to Calais over a five-year period and avoided paying duty of more than £75,000.
She told the court that alcohol and cigarettes were only duty-free if they were for personal use and claimed Walker had sold duty-free goods without paying the tax that should have been paid on them.
The offences came to light on October 18, 2011, when a police community support officer on foot patrol saw Walker’s van parked in a restricted area outside a bar in Bury St Edmunds town centre.
When the officer asked to look in the rear of the van she saw packets of tobacco and cigarettes, some cases of beer and vegetables, said Miss Devas.
When his home was searched officers found £60,000 in cash and a quantity of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol were found in the boot of his Jaguar.
After his arrest Walker claimed the goods found in his van and car were for his own use and for family members.