Published Friday, 06 September 2013
A Belfast court has heard details of a man’s gangrenous toe. (© UTV)
In setting 57-year-old Maurice Wilson free by suspending his 15-month jail term for three years, Deputy Recorder of Belfast Judge Corinne Philpott QC told him he "may still be able to get to hospital as soon as you can".
She had earlier heard that Wilson, who sat in a wheelchair at the side of the dock at Belfast Crown Court, was scheduled to have surgery to remove a gangrenous toe which has developed as a result of diabetes.
Wilson, from Victoria Court in Belfast, had pleaded guilty to two charges of evading the excise duty on more than 200,000 illegally imported, counterfeit cigarettes and almost 10kgs of tobacco.
Prosecution lawyer Peter Magill told the court that when customs officers raided a warehouse on 7 January 2011, they uncovered 183,000 cigarettes along with 9.83kgs of tobacco.
Wilson, said the lawyer, was caught unloading the items and when he was searched, a key to the padlock of the storeroom was found in his pocket.
Despite being charged and released on bail, Wilson was again caught with illegal cigarettes six weeks later on 22 February.
This time, said Mr Magill, officers uncovered 50,114 apparently Spanish cigarettes in the boot of Wilson's Ford Mondeo but he added that, like the others, the cigarettes were counterfeit.
The total duty lost to the exchequer was thought to be around £57,000.
In sentencing Wilson, Judge Philpott told him that although the fact he reoffends while on bail was an aggravating factor, as were his two previous convictions for similar offences, his repeat offence "showed a degree of desperation".
© UTV News