Pensioner faces customs charges over more than 500,000 cigarettes

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A Ballymena pensioner has been accused of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and VAT on over half a million cigarettes.

David McCullough (69), of Old Antrim Road, is also accused of possessing criminal property - more than £18,000 in cash.

The case was listed at the Departmental Court at the town’s courthouse on Wednesday but a defence lawyer said it was not ready to proceed as the accused was not present.

Full details have yet to be outlined to the court but the charge sheet shows, the accused is charged with five counts of fraudulently evading customs duty on excise goods and a sixth charge of possessing criminal property.

It is alleged that on December 30, 2014, in relation to certain excise goods, namely 499,680 cigarettes and 44.805 kilos of hand rolling tobacco, he was knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion or attempted evasion of excise duty and VAT chargeable on the said goods.

Similar charges referred to 11,820 cigarettes and 11.3 kilos of hand rolling tobacco on December 16, 2014; 200 cigarettes and 50 grammes of hand rolling tobacco on the same date; 2,600 cigarettes and 5.7 kilos of hand rolling tobacco on July 21, 2016 and also on July 21 last year, 22,200 cigarettes and 14.4 kilos of hand rolling tobacco.

The sixth charge was that on July 21 last year the accused had possession of criminal property, namely £18,105 cash, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act.

District Judge Peter King adjourned the case until next week.

At Ballymena Magistrates Court on March 9, an application to forfeit £18,105 ‘detained’ cash in connection with the case was adjourned until September this year.