Published Friday, 01 June 2012
The boatman smuggled 200,000 cigarettes into Belfast Port where he worked. (© Belfast Harbour Commission)
Gerard Maxwell of North Hill Street in Belfast pleaded guilty last month to the evasion of over £47,000 of duty on the smuggled Russian cigarettes after an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
John Whiting, Assistant Director Criminal Investigation for HMRC said: "Maxwell used his position as an employee at Belfast Docks to facilitate the smuggling and sale of illicit cigarettes.
"Tobacco smuggling is organised fraud on a global scale, encouraging and supporting criminality within our communities, and robbing taxpayers of millions each year in unpaid duty and VAT.
"Although you may think you are getting a bargain, you really have no idea what you are paying for."
Harbour Police uncovered the cigarettes in a transit van after observing suspicious activity next to a ship moored in Belfast Port.
Maxwell, who facilitated the exchange, initially claimed he had been out for a walk and had accidently left his mobile phone and keys in a van, whilst giving directions to the driver.
He later pleaded guilty to arranging the supply of the cigarettes to the van driver. A search of Maxwell's house uncovered a small quantity of cigarettes, bearing the same batch markings as those in the van.
The cigarettes, along with £2,660 in cash, found in Maxwell's Belfast home, were seized by HMRC. Jakabauskas also pleaded guilty last month and was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for 12 months.