LONDON: TWO drivers have been jailed after they were caught with half a million contraband cigarettes, almost exactly a year after they were caught on the same stretch of road with a tonne of smuggled tobacco.
Between them, haulage firm owner Stephen Shaun McDonough, 58, and accomplice David Collinson, 28, helped cheat the Government out of £306,841 in customs duty, said Angus MacDonald, prosecuting.
They are now both starting two-and-a-half years behind bars after each admitted two charges of being concerned in evading customs duty.
Mr MacDonald said McDonough, of Benwell Village Mews, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was stopped on the A1, near Ferrybridge at 4.40pm on November 26, 2014. In his Mercedes van was 400 kg of Turner hand-rolling tobacco on which £72,184 duty had not been paid.
He had been travelling north in convoy with Collinson, of Moorvale Lane, Newcastle–upon-Tyne, who was stopped 20 minutes later near the A19 /A1 junction near Thirsk. He had 600 kg of the same tobacco brand on which £108,323 duty had not been paid. He also had 200 smuggled cigarettes.
Both men claimed to know nothing about smuggling, and were bailed.
But a week before they were due to stand trial at York Crown Court on November 24, 2015, both were stopped in a third Mercedes van on the A1 near Boroughbridge because it didn’t have an MOT certificate. In the back were 500,000 Richmond and Mayfair king size cigarettes on which £126,334 duty had not been paid.
Both then admitted they knew about all the smuggled goods and were remanded in custody.
Their barristers said they had committed their crimes for money and each claimed they had been put under pressure by others in charge of the smuggling runs to carry on after their first arrest. Neither was willing to give evidence about the threats.
Judge Rodney Jameson QC said it was difficult to accept the threats’ claims.
Paul Currer said Collinson was a caring man whose mental health had suffered since his arrest and Jane Foley said McDonough was a family man who had largely put his criminal days behind him.