Berkshire

Illicit cigarettes smuggled into UK in toy boxes

Toy box Image copyright HMRC
Image caption Some of the illicit cigarettes were hidden in toy train set boxes

A man and his two children have been sentenced after millions of cigarettes were smuggled to the UK in toy boxes.

William Powell, son William Powell Jr and daughter Lorraine Bennett, who are all from Berkshire, admitted evading excise duty.

HM Revenue and Customs said they were due to receive cigarettes and tobacco worth more than £1.3m in lost tax.

Powell Sr, of Twyford, was jailed for 30 months. His son, 35, and daughter, 37, received suspended sentences.

Border Force and HMRC officers seized more than 1,800 kilos of tobacco and 97,000 counterfeit tobacco pouches addressed to the defendants' homes at East Midlands Airport, postal depots and a garage in Reading.

They were imported from China and Hong Kong, often in containers described as holding metal parts, lights and even children's toys, according to HMRC.

Image copyright HMRC
Image caption HMRC and border officers seized cigarettes at East Midlands Airport and postal depots

At Reading Crown Court on Monday, Powell Jr, of Reading, was sentenced to 18 months in jail, suspended for 18 months. He also received 200 hours of community service.

Bennett, of Reading, received 10 months in jail, suspended for 18 months.

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