Man arrested after cigarettes haul found

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A Bury St Edmunds man evaded more than £78,000 in excise duty on cigarettes and tobacco that he imported from France, it has been claimed.

William Walker, 74, of Beetons Way, has denied two offences of dealing with goods with fraudulent intent on which duty was not paid over a one year period.

Ipswich Crown Court heard on Wednesday heard that Walker was arrested on October 18 last year after he left his van parked in a restricted area in St Andrew’s Street South where it was spotted by Police Community Support Officer Joanne Morton.

PCSO Morton said Walker emerged from a nearby bar and told her he was parked there ‘because I can’.

He opened the rear doors of the vehicle to show vegetables he said he was selling but PCSO Morton, who issued a fixed penalty notice, became concerned after spotting bottles of alcohol and packets of tobacco.

Sgt Richard Prouse was called to the scene and arrested Walker because with the quantities involved it was possible the alcohol and tobacco were stolen.

Inside the van were 2,000 cigarettes, 40 pouches of tobacco and 120 bottles of beer.

Officers searched Walker’s home where £60,000 in cash was recovered together with bank statements and two mobile phones.

In his Jaguar car they found 3,400 cigarettes, 130 pouches of tobacco, a case of beer and paperwork relating to ferry crossings to France.

Steven Christmas, an HM Revenue and Customs officer, said in a statement that inquiries showed that Walker, frequently accompanied by three passengers, made Channel crossings on 22 occasions between October 18, 2010 and October 18, 2011.

Mr Christmas said that taking into account the legal duty free allowances for four people on each trip, the duty unpaid by Walker during that period amounted to an estimated £78,378.

Prosecutor Nicola Devas told the jury that it was alleged that Walker had was buying tobacco, cigarettes and alcohol in France and selling it at pubs and bars in Bury without paying duty.

Walker has claimed that not all the alcohol, tobacco and cigarettes were owned by him and those that were were intended for his own use.

The trial continues.