Two Manchester men caught with illegal tobacco and unexplained cash in their homes have been jailed following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Steven McElroy, 53, of Denton was arrested on three separate occasions handling illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco (HRT) and was caught with bundles of unexplained cash hidden in a nappy bag.

On one occasion, Aleksandr Baikovskij, 32, of Salford was arrested alongside McElroy in possession of smuggled HRT. He also had large amounts of cash at home that he couldn’t account for.

McElroy and Baikovskij both pleaded guilty prior to trial and were jailed for 26 months and 40 weeks respectively, at Manchester Crown Court for £86,000 excise duty fraud. The seized cash totalling £34,980 will be subject to a Proceeds of Crime (POCA) hearing.

Mike O’Grady, assistant director of criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “McElroy is a serial offender. He was originally arrested in Manchester with illegal cigarettes and tobacco in a lock-up unit. During a search of his home HMRC officers found cash concealed in a nappy bag. McElroy was subsequently arrested in Warrington with Baikovskij, this time with a large amount of illegal tobacco. During a search of Baikovskij’s home more unexplained cash was seized by HMRC. Only three weeks later, McElroy, out on bail, was arrested in east Manchester by police as he drove a van laden with yet more illegal tobacco.”