Truck driver sentenced for cigarette smuggling
A truck driver who tried to smuggle more than 5 million illegal cigarettes into the UK hidden behind bags of soil, has been sent to prison for four-and-a-half years.
Sabastiaan Gahr, of Kinrooi, Belgium, who was convicted of excise fraud at Grimsby Crown Court, was found with illegal cigarettes worth £1,379,248 in unpaid duty at King George Docks in Hull. The 41-year-old was caught when Border Force officers stopped his vehicle as he arrived into the UK from Rotterdam on 13 June 2018.
Gahr said he was delivering soil and furniture to a garden centre in Liverpool but officers found 5,200,000 Business Royal cigarettes when they searched the truck. The cigarettes were packed in cardboard boxes, stacked on pallets, wrapped in white plastic and hidden behind bags of soil.
Gahr told officers he did not know about the cigarettes and was paid €500 to drive the HGV by a man he met in a pub. He was arrested and the cigarettes were seized. The case was passed to HMRC for investigation.
Eden Noblett, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a shocking attempt to flood the UK with millions of illegal cigarettes. Gahr thought his haul of illegal goods would go unnoticed and he could make some easy money. But now he is paying the price behind bars.
“Trade in illegal tobacco undermines legitimate businesses and starves our public services of vital funds.”
New Mercedes Actros for Ginsters maker
In a high profile conquest deal, in which driver and other road user safety was a high priority, Samworth Brothers Supply Chain has acquired 18 new Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor units.
Based in Leicester, it is the temperature controlled distribution arm of the manufacturer of a wide portfolio of food products, including the renowned Ginsters range of Cornish pasties and Dickinson & Morris pork pies.
The tractors are all Actros 2545 Streamspace models, specified with PPC Predictive Powertrain Control and the Safety Pack, which includes Active Brake Assist 4, with pedestrian recognition, Proximity Control assist and driver’s airbags.
The acquisition, under a 250,000km/year guaranteed buyback deal from Mertrux Truck and Van, follows back-to-back trials of the 450hp 2545 against a 480hp version.
While both impressed the operator with fuel returns in excess of 10mpg pulling single deck trailers, the 450 proved marginally better. The new vehicles will become part of Samworth Brothers fleet of 120 trucks and 230 assorted semi-trailers.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks will provide driver training at Wentworth Park and the operator’s Leicester base, where Mertrux will also be providing an imprest parts stock and technical support.