A car wash owner who failed to pay £100,000 duty on more than 400,000 cigarettes has been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.

Pshtewan Sharef Ibrahim, 42, from Warrington, kept the illicit cigarettes at self-storage units in his hometown. The cigarettes were sniffed out by specially trained detector dogs during a visit to the premises by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers, on 30 November 2016.

When questioned by officers, Ibrahim said he was paid £200 to rent the two storage units on behalf of someone else and that he used them to store his car wash equipment.

He pleaded guilty on 25 April at Liverpool Crown Court to two counts of fraudulently evading excise duty. He was sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 20 hours unpaid work and abide by a 7am and 7pm curfew for three months, at the same court on, 9 May.

Paul Maybury, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Ibrahim thought his criminal scheme would go unnoticed, but he was wrong.

“Selling illicit tobacco threatens the livelihoods of hard working legitimate businesses by stealing their trade. I encourage anyone with information on this type of fraud to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788887.”