A Barnsley man whose haul of illicit tobacco was discovered after a break-in at his home has been jailed for 18 months following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Dog food wholesaler Anthony Eden, of Meyrick Drive, was on a trip to Thailand in April 2013 when the home he shares with his wife was targeted by thieves. Police, searching for evidence of the burglary, discovered 77,000 cigarettes and 111kg of tobacco with an excise duty value of £36,000.
The case was passed to HMRC, and enquiries revealed that, in November 2011, Anthony Eden and his wife, Molly, were caught trying to bring 12.5kg of non-duty paid hand-rolling tobacco through Manchester Airport after arriving on a flight from Alicante. The contraband was seized, and the Edens were issued with a warning letter advising them of the consequences of illegally importing tobacco.
On his return from Thailand, Eden attended Barnsley Police Station, where he told HMRC that he was looking after the tobacco for someone else, but wouldn’t say who.
Anthony Eden pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty in relation to the tobacco found at his home and at Manchester Airport. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by His Honour Judge Lawler at Sheffield Crown Court on 23 June.
Molly Eden pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of excise duty in relation to the airport seizure. She was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine at the same hearing.
Jo Tyler, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Anthony Eden was warned against engaging in the illicit tobacco trade, but he simply didn’t listen, and now he’s paying the price with a jail sentence.
“Tobacco fraud is a highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2bn a year in lost taxes – it is not a victimless crime.”