LONDON: A business student and part-time Burger King worker was caught bringing three suitcases with almost 50,000 cigarettes through customs at Birmingham Airport.
Adama Njie, 35, flew into the city from Gambia after visiting family last October.
But as she walked through the ‘Nothing to Declare’ aisle at customs, staff became suspicious at the amount of luggage she was carrying.
When they quizzed the business honours student they discovered the three cases has no personal possessions in and were instead crammed with 49,800 Marlborough cigarettes.
Njie, of Cromwell Street, Nechells, initially said she planned to send the cigarettes to a relative in the USA but was unable to provide customs officers with an address for him,
She later pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty on the smuggled cigarettes which amounted to £12,173.
Carl Templar-Vasey, prosecuting, said: “The defendant said she didn’t smoke but that the cigarettes were for a cousin.
“He was getting married in the United States and he had asked the family to send cigarettes.
“She was unable to provide his address and when asked how she would send them to him, she said she would have got hold of it somehow.
Trevor Meegan, defending, said Njie had been given the cigarettes by a cousin in Gambia and intended to pass them on.
He told Birmingham Crown Court: “She said she went to the ‘Something to declare’ channel and there were no staff there so she went through the green channel.
“Essentially she was doing a favour for a family friend in Gambia.
“She is 35, of good character and been in the UK since 2001.
“She gained a Btec in business and finance and had completed two of three years of a business honours degree.
“She works part time on a zero hours contract.”
Her Honour Judge Sybil Thomas said she was at a loss as to why Njie had ruined her good reputation.
She said: “Your are 35 and of previous good character.
“Why it is you threw that away I’m afraid I do not really understand.
“The account you gave to the probation officer suggests you knew only too well not paying duty was unlawful.
“I accept this was not your idea and you did it to assist a relative but what it was obvious when your account challenged it was not truthful as you could not give your relatives address.”
Njie was handed a community sentence and ordered to carry out 160 hours unpaid work and pay £600 costs.
All of the cigarettes were confiscated.