A WOMAN who told customs officers that she was transporting contraband tobacco for criminal gangs in Limerick said she would be shot if she revealed where the cigarettes came from.
Maureen Smyth, 45, admitted having just under €1,400 worth of illegal cigarettes at her home at Shanabooley Road, Ballynanty, on December 13, 2012.
Limerick District Court heard that Revenue officials Sarah Flaherty and Christopher Mulqueen had swooped on the address on that date.
Searching the property, the customs officers had at first come across 200 unstamped cigarettes in an upstairs box room. State solicitor Michael Murray said that further quantities had been found behind a couch and in the boot of Ms Smyth’s car.
Questioned by the customs officers, Ms Smyth at first said that the cigarette’s were “her fella’s” and that he bought them from a truck driver once a month.
Mr Murray said that the search was ongoing in the house when “at one stage somebody called to the door who appeared to be looking for something” and Ms Smyth had “started shaking her head vigorously”.
Again asked where the cigarettes had come from, she had replied “I’d be shot if I told you”.
She said she had to pick up the cigarettes for one criminal gang and take them to another. She said she owed the criminals €4,000 because she had been “hooked on cocaine”.
The total value of the cigarettes seized on the date was just under €1,400, Mr Murray said, with a potential loss of revenue to the state of €1,031.98.
Solicitor Paul Tiernan, said that his client had no previous convictions and should also be given credit for her co-operation with Revenue.
“You could hardly say she co-operated fully,” said Judge Eugene O’Kelly, observing she had not disclosed the origin of the contraband.
Mr Tiernan said it was Ms Smyth who had volunteered the cigarettes in the car, which had not been searched by officers at that point. The car had also been forfeited to the state during the course of the investigation.
Judge O’Kelly said he had to take into account her plea and the fact that her car had been seized “as the state is entitled to do as it was being used for the conveyance of contraband”. He imposed a fine of €2,500, adding Ms Smyth would have been facing a term in prison if she had prior tobacco convictions.