Dutch father and son jailed after being caught in Hull with illegal cigarettes under plant pots

A father and son have today been jailed after they were caught smuggling almost half a tonne of illegal tobacco into the UK hidden under pot plants.

They were caught when Border Force officers stopped and searched their vehicles as they arrived from Rotterdam on September 18 this year.

Officers found 960 pouches of non-UK duty paid hand-rolling tobacco hidden under potted plants in cardboard boxes. Their paperwork said they were transporting flowers.

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The Turner brand tobacco, worth £138,720 in unpaid duty, was seized by Border Force.

Both men, of Witboomstraat and Nieuwstraast in Veen, were arrested and the case was passed to HMRC for investigation.

Eden Noblett, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a shameful attempt to put illegal tobacco on the streets and steal taxpayers’ money.

“Johannes and Mattijas Timmermans were wrong to think their illegal cargo would go undetected and now they’re paying the price.

“Trade in illegal tobacco harms legitimate businesses and deprives the UK of money, which should be used to fund our vital public services. The duty evaded on these goods was enough to pay the salaries of six newly qualified nurses for a year.”

Both men admitted excise fraud at Hull Crown Court on September 20.

They were each sentenced to ten months in prison at the same court today.

Proceedings are underway to recover the unpaid duty.