Glasgow & West Scotland

Woman tried to smuggle cigarettes disguised as shoes

A woman tried to smuggle cigarettes into Scotland disguised as shoes to avoid paying duty on them.

Xiao Guo, 32, ordered almost 20,000 cigarettes from China but they were intercepted by HMRC at the sorting office, after staff received a tip-off.

Guo, from Glasgow, pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to attempting to evade £6,390 in cigarette duty between 14 February and 2 March, last year.

Sheriff Linda Ruxton deferred sentence until next month.

The court heard that in December 2016 an anonymous letter was received at the Parcelforce depot in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire.

It claimed Guo used her home in Calton to receive cigarettes by post form China and was not paying any excise duty on them.

Packages intercepted

Five packages addressed to Guo's home were examined at the depot in February last year - with labels that indicated the package contained shoes.

Instead thousands of Marlboro Gold cigarettes were found inside.

Further packages with cigarettes, including Chinese brands, were stopped and opened.

HMRC searched Guo's home in Calton and discovered a Royal Mail box similar to those at the sorting office, as well as a book containing figures and postal references.

HMRC prepared and issued a Warning of Liability to Prosecution letter, a seizure schedule and Public Notice to the accused.

Guo was detained and cautioned before she told officers she was sent the cigarettes from China as they were so expensive here, and she gives them to her friends.

During her police interview at London Road Police Office she said people in China send parcels to people in the UK and claimed a friend from China put her in contact with someone.

'Don't want to answer'

Procurator fiscal John Bedford said: "When asked how often she ordered cigarettes, the accused stated she had only ordered twice and then it was investigated.

"She added that she did not order a specific amount of cigarettes, she only received what they sent."

Guo was asked: "Do you make a living from selling these cigarettes?" and replied "Don't want to answer."

She also said "Don't know" when asked if she knew there was tax to be paid on cigarettes in the UK.

Guo replied "Don't know" when officers questioned her if she knew if it was an offence to smuggle cigarettes without paying duty.

The total number of cigarettes recovered with no duty paid was 19,500, made up of 7,380 Marlboro Gold and 12,120 of Chinese brands.

Sheriff Linda Ruxton ordained Guo to appear for sentencing next month.

A motion was made for destruction of the cigarettes which defence lawyer Michael Poggi did not oppose.

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