Cigarette smugglers sentenced

Smuggled cigarettes burnt to fuel the National Grid.

THREE British women have been sentenced for smuggling 45,000 cigarettes into Exeter Airport following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.

Sharon House, Nikki Archbold and Marie Anne Lund, who live in Tenerife, appeared at Central Devon Magistrates’ Court in Exeter on Friday, October 28 and pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading duty payable on 15,000 cigarettes (a total of 45,000) and evading �3,000 in revenue (a total of �9,000).

House, 50, was given a 12 week prison sentence, which has been suspended for 12 months, and will have to obey a curfew from 7pm to 7am for seven weeks.

Archbold, 21, was fined �1000 and Lund, 18, received a 12 month conditional discharge.

All three of the women must pay �200 costs.

The cigarettes, which included Benson & Hedges and CK brands have been burned to fuel the National Grid.

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They were discovered by UK Border Agency officers when the women disembarked from an early morning Tenerife flight on August 17.

Simon De Kayne, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “These women intended to smuggle cigarettes into the UK and return to their lives in Tenerife almost immediately, instead bail conditions forced them to surrender their passports and remain in the UK.

“Hopefully this and the sentences handed down will make them think twice before considering future criminality.”

He added: “Tobacco smuggling not only undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with illegal imports, but also costs the UK economy around �2billion a year.”