A lorry driver who attempted to smuggle 1.7 million cigarettes into the UK before absconding to Poland has been sent to prison.
Mariusz Chorazy, who is based in Kolobrzeg, Poland, was caught driving a truck with eight pallets of non-duty paid cigarettes hidden amongst legitimate freight at Dover Eastern Docks in August 2013.
An investigation by HMRC found that the truck had taken a 130km detour after picking up freight from Switzerland, travelling through Belgium to pick up the cigarettes in the Netherlands. He then headed to Dunkirk to board a ferry to Dover.
HMRC estimated that he had attempted to avoid paying £404,000 in excise duty by smuggling the cigarettes into the UK.
It emerged that Chorazy had left the UK when he failed to answer bail in November 2013. He was apprehended by Polish authorities in June, and extradited to the UK.
Upon returning to the UK, he was charged with evading excise duty and remanded in custody at Margate Magistrates' Court.
He pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on 7 September. He was sentenced to two years in prison at the same court on 4 October.
Judge Adele Williams said the case was a “very serious matter” and said he should be deported upon his release from prison.