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Rochdale ‘flowers’ wilt under scrutiny

A market trader from Rochdale, who claimed boxes containing 40kilos of smuggled tobacco were packed with flowers, was sentenced to a suspended jail term and community work at Manchester Crown Court today for trading in illicit tobacco. His accomplice from Humberside was sentenced to 19 months jail.

David Eatough (aged 31) from Rochdale, along with Nadim Erkose (46) from Goole in Humberside, were seen by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers unloading packages in Eatough’s driveway in January 2010. During a search of his Rochdale home officers witnessed them throwing £68,000 in cash over the garden hedge in an attempt to hide it.

The boxes containing the smuggled hand rolling tobacco (HRT), which Eatough claimed contained flowers, were seized from Eatough’s vehicle. Whilst more illicit cigarettes and wine were also found in Erkose’s car.

Mike O’Grady, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“Despite attempts to throw the cash away in full view of HMRC officers, and claims they knew nothing about the cash or tobacco, in the face of the evidence gathered they had little option but to admit to trading in illegal tobacco.”

“Remember if you are offered cheap alcohol or cigarettes you could be financing criminals and tax evaders like this. We would ask anyone with information relating to this type of crime to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 and help us stamp it out.”

At Manchester Crown Court sentencing, His Honour Judge Thomas commented that Eatough was ”led by greed’.

At a Proceeds of Crime hearing neither man claimed ownership of the cash and the seizure of the cash was not challenged. During interviews Eatough admitted to trading in tobacco from his home and at local markets. Both men now face a further confiscation hearing in June 2011.

Note to Editors

Individual details:

David Eatough (07/10/79) a market stall holder of Melbourne Close, Balderstone, Rochdale, Greater Manchester was charged with three counts of duty evasion. Two brown boxes containing 20 kilos of hand rolling tobacco were seized from his vehicle. He pleaded guilty on 19 November 2010 and was sentenced today to 12 months suspended jail and 300 hours unpaid work for the community.

Nadim Erkose (05/10/64) a commission based buying and selling agent of Old Rugby Park, Goole in Humberside was charged with multiple counts of duty evasion. A small quantity of non-UK duty paid cigarettes, together with 12.6 litres of wine, was seized from his vehicle. Erkose pleaded guilty to the charges in February 2011 and was sentenced to 19 months in jail.

The goods seized are worth approximately £5,000 in unpaid duty and VAT, but the men’s admissions over their trading habits will be taken into consideration during future confiscation proceedings to assess what profits and undeclared income the pair has had from their criminal activities.

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