Pensioner failed to pay duty on 64,000 cigarettes

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A 73-YEAR-OLD man charged with evading duty on more than 64,000 cigarettes and 10 kilos of tobacco, claims he bought it for friends and family, magistrates were told.

Arthur Rhodes of Forest Dale, Boston, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulently evading duty on cigarettes when he appeared at Skegness Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday.

Police first arrested Rhodes on January 29, 2011, in Burgh-le-Marsh when he was caught purchasing from the bulk supplier in a large scale operation, resulting in the seizure of a million cigarettes,

As a mere customer with no previous convictions, Rhodes had his van confiscated but was let off with a warning letter on that occasion.

On May 17, 2011, however, Customs and Excise discovered a further 36,400 cigarettes and 6.4kg of hand rolling tobacco at two Boston based lock-ups held in the defendant’s name.

On the same date a search of Rhodes’ car revealed even more cigarettes, bringing the total amount of duty evaded to £13,678.

Rhodes’ admitted renting the storage unit in Boston but claims he was holding it for a third party.

He also admits to buying a quantity of cigarettes but insists they were to be sold at cost to friends and family - a claim that the Crown Prosecution Service was said to have rejected as ‘fanciful’.

David Lee, defending, told the magistrates that Rhodes was an ‘end-of-the-chain retailer’ rather than a major supplier and that the two charges relating to May 17 should really be considered as the same.

Magistrates adjourned the case for a Newton hearing at Skegness Magistrates’ Court on August 7, when the facts will be presented to determine the extent of Rhodes’ operation before passing sentencing.