A PENSIONER who had enjoyed a luxury cruise to the Canary Islands has appeared in court after he was found to have smuggled almost 100 kilos of tobacco back into the UK.  

Paul Wareing evaded paying £21,628 of duty by smuggling the hand-rolling tobacco on three separate occasions, an investigation conducted by HM Revenue and Customs Found.

The Blackburn man was stopped at Southampton port on December 9 the luxury cruise, where he was found to be carrying 47.45kg of HRT, which was seized by Border Force officers.

HMRC investigators discovered that the 72-year-old had smuggled 47.5 kilos of HRT on two other occasions in 2018, following cruise holidays to the Caribbean and the Canaries, where he purchased the illegal tobacco.

Zoe Ellerbeck, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“This is a case of pure greed. Wareing saw an opportunity to make money fraudulently and then used the cash to pay for his holidays. In interviews Wareing compared himself to Robin Hood ‘giving to the poor’, when in fact he made a substantial amount of money by selling the illegal tobacco to friends and family.

“Tobacco smuggling steals money from public services and undermines honest shop owners who pay their taxes. I urge anyone with information about tobacco smuggling or any other type of fraud to contact us online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Wareing, of Hornby Court, Blackburn, admitted evading duty at Southampton Magistrates Court on 5 September 2019. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, at the same court on Monday 7 October 2019. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

The tobacco was forfeited and will be destroyed.