A WIGAN man caught smuggling more than 60,000 cigarettes into the UK claimed he had been pressurised into committing the offence by members of Tenerife’s criminal underworld.
Joshua Lloyd belatedly admitted he had not been acting alone after he was caught dodging paying duty on thousands of cigarettes for the FOURTH time.
But the 20-year-old refused to name the person he was acting as a mule for - saying he feared recriminations for both himself and his family.
Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard how Lloyd was first caught smuggling 15,400 cigarettes into Newcastle Airport on December 14, 2010.
He was then caught repeating the trick with 15,000 cigarettes at the same airport less than two weeks later before being caught smuggling 17,800 cigarettes into Manchester Airport on April 15, 2011.
On all three occasions he was issued with stern warnings.
But Lloyd’s luck ran out when he was caught smuggling 16,000 cigarettes into Exeter Airport on May 4, 2011.
The defendant initially tried to explain away the huge stash of cigarettes by insisting he was a very heavy smoker.
But Lloyd eventually admitted to customs officers that he planned to sell the cigarettes on - although he continued to deny running them for anyone else.
The court heard how Lloyd had evaded more than £13,000 in tax across each of the four offences - and that the limit for the number of duty free cigarettes allowed per flight was just 200.
Martin Jones, defending, told how his client had subsequently admitted acting on someone else’s behalf.
He said Lloyd had moved to Tenerife in 2009 to work in bars and restaurants but had run into money trouble when he lost his job due to ill health.
Mr Jones said his client’s predicament led him to borrow money he couldn’t pay back - before being pressurised into acting as a mule.
He urged the court to give Lloyd, of Swan Lane, Hindley Green, maximum credit for his guilty pleas and lack of previous convictions.
The defendant also admitted failing to surrender to Exeter Police Station on June 15, 2011.
Magistrates handed Lloyd a 12-week jail sentence, but suspended the sentence for 12 months.
They also ordered the defendant to pay £100 towards court costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Wigan
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: North west