A lorry driver caught trying to smuggle more than three tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco into the UK has been jailed for two years after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Marek Juran, 40, was interviewed by HMRC after officers from Border Force at Dover Eastern Docks uncovered the illicit tobacco, worth an estimated £586,000 in lost duty and taxes. It was shrink-wrapped on pallets and hidden among a genuine consignment of car parts in the rear of his lorry on 30 November 2015.

Juran pleaded guilty to one count of being knowingly involved in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Alan Tully, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Juran went to great lengths to conceal the illicit tobacco among the genuine car parts he was carrying in his lorry. In doing so he was stripping away hundreds of thousands of pounds from vital public services in the UK, but now he is paying the price with a prison sentence.

“The smuggling, transport, storage or sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by HMRC. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs UK taxpayers around £2.1bn a year. We encourage anyone with information about suspicious tobacco or cigarette products to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”