Felixstowe: Smuggler jailed after blaming non-existent family friend
- Credit: Contributed
A smuggler’s defence was branded ‘ludicrous’ after he blamed a non-existent family friend for trying to illegally import cigarettes through Felixstowe.
Baryan Ahmed Mohamed was jailed for 21 months at Ipswich Crown Court after using a false identity while attempting to bring in more than 350,000 duty-free cigarettes into the UK.
The 50-year-old was caught by customs officers after he arranged for consignment to be shipped from the United Arab Emirates under the guise of being carpets and blankets.
The container arrived at the Port of Felixstowe in June last year and was searched by officers who found more than 350,000 Rothmans and Richman branded cigarettes.
HM Customs and Revenue investigators discovered Mohamed had used a false name on correspondence to try and distance himself from the illegal haul, worth almost £95,000 in unpaid excise duty and VAT.
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He admitted he had imported the contraband. However he said an old friend of the family had arranged the importation.
Mohamed claimed he even let the friend use his computer and e-mail address.
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The smuggler also admitted to paying for the clearance of the cigarettes, but said he was doing so at the request of the family friend.
Despite all this he could neither name, nor identify, the person involved when challenged to do so.
Sentencing Mohamed Judge John Devaux described aspects of his defence as “ludicrous”.
Mohamed was arrested at his home Oxford Gardens, London, in September last year, before being charged in February with being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.
He was found guilty after his trial jury took just 40 minutes to reach their unanimous verdict.
After Mohamed’s sentencing Paul Barton, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “Baryan Ahmed Mohamed plotted to smuggle large quantities of illegal cigarettes into the UK. He cared little for the impact on small, honest businesses and had no qualms about selling counterfeit and unregulated cigarettes.”