A lorry driver from Greater Manchester who was caught four times with illegal loads of beer smuggled from France, has been jailed for a £131,000 fraud.

Simon O’Hare, 29, was stopped on four separate occasions in London, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators as he was delivering the smuggled beer.

John Pointing, assistant director of criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “O’Hare lied about where the beer came from and the associated false paperwork each time he was caught, but continued to smuggle, despite warnings he could be prosecuted. Selling smuggled alcohol at knock-down prices gives criminals an unfair profit and threatens the livelihoods of honest retailers.

“We urge the public to come forward and let us know if they have information about the sale, transport, or storage of suspect alcohol or tobacco on 0800 59 5000. You can also report suspicious trading, tax evasion or smuggling via our website to help us tackle organised crime.”

O’Hare would drive his empty HGV to France, returning with pallets of beer which, on paper, were destined for an Essex bonded warehouse, where non-duty paid alcohol is stored. However, he would divert the deliveries to wholesalers around the UK, evading UK excise duty. On each trip, HMRC found evidence he had attempted to alter registration numbers and markings on the vehicles in an attempt to evade detection.