Airline man fined for cig smuggling

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AN AIRLINE worker from Leigh has been fined for attempting to smuggle cigarettes into the UK through Manchester Airport.

David Cooke, 51, of Shipham Close, was arrested on December 8 by Border Force officers when he attempted to pass through the Customs Green Channel at Manchester Airport with 1,320 duty-free cigarettes, plus other duty-free tobacco and alcoholic products after arriving on a flight from Goa.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators interviewed him and he was later charged with duty evasion offences.

Appearing before Trafford magistrates, Cooke admitted that the cigarettes, 750g of hand-rolling tobacco and two litres of vodka in his luggage were not UK duty-paid and that he was attempting to evade over £528 in excise duty. He was fined £1,000 plus £85 costs and has to pay a £100 victims’ support surcharge. The duty-free goods have been forfeited.

Mike O’Grady, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said: “Airline employees, whatever their role, hold a position of trust and abusing such privileges in order to smuggle is a serious matter. Cooke gave weak excuses for his holiday crime.

“There are no excuses for smuggling whatever your status. Tobacco fraud costs honest taxpayers more than £2bn a year, undercutting honest businesses, and drawing people into wider criminality. Anyone with information about illicit tobacco sales or smuggling should contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”