145,000 cigarettes hidden in camper
A FOUR-month prison sentence was handed down at Gorey District Court last week to a Lithuanian man found with over 145,000 cigarettes concealed in his camper van at Rosslare last month.
29-year-old Mindaugas Velicka, of Vilidius Zemynos Str. 3550, Lithuania, was found at Rosslare Harbour on May 5 last, with €62,141.40 worth of cigarettes. He was subsequently charged with delivering and attempting to evade duty on excisable goods.
He entered a plea before the judge several days earlier, and documents relating to the case were translated into Lithuanian before he entered the plea.
Ian Harper, Customs Officer, told the court that the defendant was coming into the country, off the ferry from France, on May 5 last, when 145,360 cigarettes were found concealed in the camper van he was driving. The total tax due on the cigarettes was €48,787.61. When the search began, the defendant said he had 7,000 cigarettes; then 70,000, but the final figure was in excess of 145,000. Solicitor Ed King said that after the cigarettes were found, his client cooperated with the Customs Officers. The court heard that the cigarettes were destined for Belfast. Mr. King said his client has a car restoration business in Lithuania and has nine employees.
' This has had a disastrous effect on his business in Lithuania,' he said, adding that this was his first time coming to Ireland, and that his wife and child were with him.
Judge O Buachalla sentenced the defendant to four months in prison, but backdated it to May 5, when he was first taken into custody. Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal.