From: Dumfries & Galloway Standard
A DUMFRIES man was caught smuggling £6.3 million worth of fake cigarettes into the UK.
Lorry driver Colin Beattie, 45, had brought the haul through the docks at Dover.
But he was intercepted by customs officers and following an extensive investigation was on Monday jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Beattie was found guilty, by unanimous jury decision, of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty chargeable on the cigarettes.
He had evaded paying £1.046 million in tax.
Sentencing Beattie at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge Gold said he “had lied in the face of overwhelming evidence”, adding that “he did not believe that Beattie was only a courier”.
After the case, Martin Brown, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Beattie’s ploy to deprive the UK economy of over one million pounds in duty failed and he is now paying the price.
“The cigarettes were counterfeit, meaning they were unlicensed and unregulated for the UK market.
“HMRC will continue to work closely with the UK Border Agency to disrupt this type of criminal operation that undermines legitimate UK trade.”
Beattie, an unemployed lorry driver, is originally from the Locharbriggs area of Dumfries and formerly lived on Wallamhill Road.
However he was described by customs officials as being most recently from Essex but having no fixed address.
Beattie had travelled by ferry from Calais and managed to smuggle the haul of illegal cigarettes through the Eastern Docks of Dover.
The thousands of packets of cigarettes, in black shrink-wrapped boxes, had been hidden behind pallets of tomatoes in the lorry’s refrigerated trailer unit.
But he was caught by customs officials on July 14, 2009, and later charged with fraudulent evasion of excise duty.
Mr Brown added: “Anyone with information about cigarette smuggling should contact the customs’ hotline on 0800 59 5000.”