Smugglers jailed over £2m alcohol fraud

Two men have been jailed for evading nearly £2 million in alcohol duty by “hijacking” the details of legitimate companies and faking paperwork to claim they were importing vinegar, fruit juice, detergent and water into the UK from Europe.

PoliceKieran Patrick Hughes, 55, of Coharra Road in Portadown, was sentenced to six years, while William Canning, 44, of Clooney Road in Ballykelly, Limavady, was sentenced to 27 months.

David Margree, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Over 18 months these men attempted to flood the UK with illicit alcohol, with the aim of lining their own pockets, at the expense of UK taxpayers.

“They hijacked details from legitimate hauliers in order to disguise the fact that they were committing fraud. The alcohol was sold on and the profits used to fund further criminality, undercutting legitimate retailers who could not compete with these fraudsters.

“HMRC is committed to protecting public finances from attacks by criminals and will not stand by and let crooks rip off UK taxpayers. Anyone with information about alcohol fraud can contact us on the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Hughes was found guilty of 14 counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and jailed for six years when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today.

Canning was found guilty of two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and jailed for 12 months for one count and 15 for the second count to run consecutively.

The total revenue evaded was £1,807,216.99.


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