A MAN who claimed to be expecting a book delivery in a package containing over 18kg of unstamped tobacco has been fined €2,500 in a smuggling case at Limerick District Court.
Revenue officials were first alerted to the offences when the package was intercepted by suspicious staff at Portlaoise mail centre. It was addressed to a supposed company called Budget Books at the address in Swallow Drive, Carew Park, of John Collins.
Mr Collins pleaded guilty before Judge Grainne O’Neill to two counts of possession of non-duty paid loose Golden Virginia tobacco and to another count of having 4,360 unstamped SuperKing cigarettes at his home on August 25, 2010.
Michelle Madden, State Solicitor’s Office, outlined that on that date a controlled delivery of the package had taken place at Mr Collins’ address and this had been followed up by a search by customs officials.
“On delivery of the package, he signed for it and a search warrant was then executed,” Ms Madden said, going on to outline that 15kg of Golden Virginia rolling tobacco - the same brand that had been observed in the Portlaoise mail centre - had been found in the house.
Another 3.8kg of the same brand was found under a child’s bed in an upstairs room while a further 4,360 unstamped SuperKing cigarettes were also discovered on the property.
Mr Collins had been immediately cautioned and had told customs officers he didn’t know there was tobacco in the package and that he received delivery of books twice or three times a year.
Sarah Ryan, solicitor for Mr Collins, said he had subsequently “co-operated fully”.
The loss of revenue to the state amounted to €5,200 and Ms Ryan said €3,000 of this had been paid after a number of Mr Collins friends paid in.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly had last year adjourned the matter to allow the accused repay the outstanding €2,200 in stages.
Ms Ryan explained her client was a father-of-one on “a minimum subsistence income” who was also now the full-time carer for his elderly mother. He was accordingly not in a position to pay the balance.
Judge O’Neill fined Mr Collins €2,500 with 12 months to pay or 15 days in prison in default.
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