Pensioner convicted of avoiding thousands of pounds in excise duty

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A Bury St Edmunds pensioner has been found guilty of evading tens of thousands of pounds in excise duty on imported alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.

William Walker, 74, was arrested after police talking to him about parking his van in a restricted part of St Andrew’s Street South, Bury St Edmunds, became suspicious of tobacco and beer found in it.

Walker, of Beetons Way, Bury, denied two offences of dealing with goods with fraudulent intent between October 2010 and October 2011 but was yesterday found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.

Releasing him on bail until later this month, Judge David Goodin ordered the preparation of a pre sentence report and warned Walker that no sentencing options were being ruled out.

Judge Goodin told Walker: “It is an offence of which the court takes a serious view.”

The judge said Walker’s operation amounted to a small business.

The jury were told how police became suspicious when 2,000 cigarettes, 40 pouches of tobacco and 120 bottles

of beer were found in the vehicle along with vegetables which Walker claimed to have been delivering.

At his home £60,000 in cash was recovered and 3,400 cigarettes, 130 pouches of tobacco and a case of beer were found in his car.

A Revenue and Customs officer said Walker had made 22 Channel crossings between between October 18, 2010 and October 18, 2011 and estimated he had avoided £78,378 excise duty.

Walker told the court that he had made trips to France in his car, some to give local pensioners a day out, but only to bring back vegetables and tinned fruit and because he enjoyed visiting.

Walker denied prosecution allegations that he had established a regular sales round to pubs and clubs in the Bury St Edmunds area for alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.