Layham: Man who helped smuggle cigarettes into UK must pay back £7,600 - despite making more than £400,000

Man smuggled cigarettes into UK to avoid VAT and duty

Man smuggled cigarettes into UK to avoid VAT and duty - Credit: PA

A SUFFOLK man who was part of a gang which smuggled tobacco and more than a million cigarettes into the UK in an attempt to evade £1.5million in duty and VAT benefited from his offending by more than £400,000, a court has heard.

Last year, Anthony Wheeler, 49, who was living in a farmhouse near Wyncoll’s Lane, Layham, near Hadleigh, admitted fraudulently evading duty on 430kilogrammes of hand-rolled tobacco and more than a million cigarettes and was jailed for three years by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court. At the time the court heard that the case, which involved four other defendants, concerned the smuggling of tobacco and cigarettes to sell on the black market.

The goods were hidden in cardboard packaging protecting household furniture and handicrafts imported from Indonesia and Thailand.

Over a two-year period between June 2007 and June 2009, seven of the consignments were intercepted by customs officials and were found to contain a total of 3.6m cigarettes and 1.6tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco.

At a confiscation hearing yesterday Martyn Levett, prosecuting, said Wheeler’s benefit from his offending was £420,378 but his available assets were only £7,611.

Judge Rupert Overbury made a confiscation order in the sum of £7,611.

At Wheeler’s sentencing hearing last year the court heard that Wheeler had no previous convictions and had been a successful carpenter and furniture maker before moving to Indonesia to start a new life, where he became involved in the tobacco smuggling operation.

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