Two alcohol smugglers from Northern Ireland have been jailed for evading £1.8m in duty.

Kieran Hughes, 55, from Portadown, was sentenced to six years and William Canning, 44, from Ballykelly, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. They faked paperwork using details of legitimate companies, claiming to import vinegar, fruit juice, detergent and water into the UK from Europe, to avoid paying duty on the alcohol.

David Margree, assistant director, criminal investigation, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: “Over 18 months these men attempted to flood the UK with illicit alcohol, with the aim of lining their own pockets, at the expense of UK taxpayers.

“They hijacked details from legitimate hauliers in order to disguise the fact that they were committing fraud. The alcohol was sold on and the profits used to fund further criminality, undercutting legitimate retailers who could not compete with these fraudsters.

“HMRC is committed to protecting public finances from attacks by criminals and will not stand by and let crooks rip off UK taxpayers. Anyone with information about alcohol fraud can contact us on the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”