A Lancashire father and son, who attempted to steal £229,000 in tax by smuggling illegal cigarettes and tobacco into the UK, were jailed this week at Manchester Crown Court.
Peter Robinson, 69, and Adam Robinson, 28, both of Rossendale, were sentenced alongside accomplice Christopher Quint, 59, of Heywood, Rochdale, following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which linked the three men to 109 postal imports of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
The investigation found that the three men had been involved in a major smuggling racket sending illicit tobacco goods by parcel post from Spain, Poland, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium to addresses in the north of England, to try and evade UK taxes.
The Robinsons were caught at UK Customs controls in Coquelles, France, in 2011. Paperwork for 26 parcels was discovered hidden in the roof lining of their car. When the parcels of tobacco and cigarettes were intercepted in the UK post, fingerprint evidence linked them all to the Robinsons. The HMRC investigation found over 109 parcels had been sent by the gang between 2009 and 2011. The men used an alias on some parcels that had been addressed to Quint’s home.
Before their trial could begin, the Robinsons left the UK for Spain. Warrants were issued for their arrest and they were extradited back to the UK in 2014 to face charges, alongside Quint, of conspiracy to smuggle and the illegal importation of tobacco products, on which UK duty hadn’t been paid.
Peter and Adam Robinson were jailed for 30 months each and Quint was sentenced to 16 weeks jail, suspended for two years with a 200-hours community work order.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “We are determined to tackle the illicit tobacco trade in the North West region. These men posted large quantities of tobacco and cigarettes in their attempt to evade UK duty and taxes. As a result of our investigation, we have disrupted a criminal networkthat was evading tax and pocketing public funds. They now face confiscation of their criminal proceeds.
“My message is clear to anyone engaged in this illegal activity. The evasion of excise duty is a criminal offence that cheats public services of vital funds. Anyone with information about the illegal trade in smuggled cigarettes and tobacco should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 595000.”