A FORMER Cheshire police officer, who retired to Spain, has been sentenced for evading £17,500 in excise duty, after smuggling 85kg of hand-rolling tobacco into Portsmouth Ferry Port.
Kenneth Pritchard, 64, hid the tobacco in suitcases, boxes and a wicker laundry basket inside a Land Rover.
He was arrested by Border Force officers at the continental ferry port on June 11 as he returned to the UK via Cherbourg, France. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) took over the investigation.
John Cooper, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Pritchard, a former crime-fighter, now has a criminal record of his own. This type of criminality not only undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with illegal imports, but also costs the UK economy about £2billion a year. People with information about such criminal activity should contact the customs’ hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Pritchard pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on December 10, to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty. He was immediately sentenced to eight weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months.
Investigators believe the tobacco was destined for the Macclesfield area of Cheshire. The Land Rover Discovery has been seized by HMRC and will be sold at auction.