A man who master-minded an operation to illegally import thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes and tobacco was today jailed at Lincoln Crown Court.
Simon Kime regularly travelled to Belgium where he arranged for packages to be sent back to a string of addresses in the Lincoln area, dodging the excise duty that should have been paid on them.
George Hazel-Owram, prosecuting, said that Kime was caught after UK Border Force staff intercepted four packages while carrying out checks at Birmingham International Airport.
The discovery of the packages, which contained a total of 48 kgs of tobacco, led to an investigation into illegal importation.
Mr Hazel-Owram said: “Officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs made further inquiries. Evidence was obtained that showed that between August 2014 and December 2014 a significant number of consignments of tobacco had been delivered to addresses in the Lincoln area connected with this defendant.”
The prosecutor said that packages were sent via a courier service as a result of trips made by Kime to buy cigarettes and tobacco from a shop in Belgium.
Investigators raided Kime’s home in January and found a stash of cigarettes and tobacco as well as £16,000 cash.
Andrew Green, a friend of Kime, travelled with him to Belgium on seven occasions to help out and some of the packages were delivered to his home address in Lincoln.
Kime, 55, of Hill Top Cottages, Potterhanworth Road, Heighington, admitted two charges of being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty involving £28,600 worth of duty. He was jailed for eight months.
Green, 55, of Yarborough Road, Lincoln, admitted a single charge of being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty totally £8,500. He was given a four month jail sentence suspended for 18 months.
Recorder Gareth Evans QC, passing sentence, described Kime as the man behind the scam with Green recruited to assist him.
He told Kime: “It was your idea. You set it up and you recruited people to help. You decided where the tobacco was going to go and you took the profit.
“You knew exactly what you were getting into. It has to be an immediate prison sentence for what you did.”
James Gray, for Kime, said: “For the best part of half a century he was a law-abiding, decent and hard-working man.
“Then he had an accident at work in 2011 and a subsequent accident on a boat that caused such injury that he was unable to work from August 2012.
“From that point onwards he was without the level of income he was used to. He was entirely reliant on benefits.
“He found himself under a significant degree of pressure financially, he was on heavy medication and he was suffering from depression and related ailments as a result of the significant change in his life.”
Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Green, said that at the time of the offences he was suffering from mental health problems and became involved after agreeing to go on a day trip to Belgium just to get out of his house.
Mr Cranmer-Brown said: “He wanted to try and rebuild his confidence and get back into work.
“He performed a limited function. He was helping Kime and parcels were sent to his address.”