Published: 16:20, 04 October 2017 |
Updated: 16:48, 04 October 2017
A lorry driver who went on the run for four years after smuggling cigarettes is now behind bars.
Mariusz Chorazy had fled the country but was finally traced and was today sentenced to two years.
Chorazy had first been caught by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks on August 30, 2013.
This was after eight pallets of non-duty paid MG brand cigarettes were found hidden within legitimate freight from Switzerland.
There were 1.8 million cigarettes and a total £404,000 in excise duty was evaded, says HM Revenue and Customs.
AM investigation revealed that the lorry had gone on a 130km (80-mile) detour through Belgium and the Netherlands, where the cigarettes were loaded.
This was on the way to the port at Dunkirk.
Chorazy, from Poland, failed to answer bail in November 2013 and it was found that he had left the UK.
He was apprehended by Polish authorities in June this year and they worked with HMRC to extradite Chorazy back to the UK on August 10.
He was immediately charged with evading excise duty and remanded in custody at Margate Magistrates Court.
Maidstone Crown Court sentenced Chorazy after he pleaded guilty there on September 7.
Judge Adele Williams, told him: “This is a very serious matter causing significant loss of revenue to the United Kingdom.”
She also said that Chorazy should be deported upon release from prison.
HMRC says that Chorazy, 54, from the city of Kolobrzeg, is the eighth fugitive to be returned to the UK to face tax justice this year.
After sentencing Tim Clarke, assistant director of fraud investigation Service for HMRC, said: “We will continue to ensure absconders, such as Chorazy, face justice.
“Time and distance do not stand in the way of our criminal investigators, and close cooperation with our international partners means nobody is beyond our reach.”
HMRC says that tobacco smuggling robs the UK of around £2.4 billion a year.
It says that anyone with information about people suspected of smuggling, selling or storing illegal tobacco should call its Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.
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