Pensioner who smuggled cigarettes is fined €3,000
A Romanian pensioner who attempted to smuggle 31,000 cigarettes into Ireland through Rosslare Europort on April 12 was fined €3,000.
Gheorghe Florea (62) - with an address of Bdul Independenbtei Nr 3, BL6ppSc.C AP.133 Mujn Tirgoviste, Jud Dimbovita, Romania, admitted having the illicit cargo.
Customs officer Patricia Howlin told how the tobacco was located hidden in the back door and behind wooden panels in a Mercedes van which arrived on the 'Oscar Wilde' ferry.
Ms Howlin reckoned that the contraband cigarettes were worth just over €17,000 and she reported Florea told her he paid €30 per sleeve for them.
He was aware that they were illegal and had previously been caught in France with a similar consignment of 45,000 cigarettes.
The witness from Customs and Excise accepted that the defendant had undergone triple bypass surgery.
Solicitor Lana Doherty insisted that her client, who offered a courier service to the Romanian community in Ireland, was not making serious money from smuggling.
Judge Gerard Haughton directed that the fine be paid from bail money put up by the Dublin resident daughter of the accused.
Ms Doherty indicated that family would be seeking return of the Mercedes, which she described as old, but the judge made no immediate ruling on this point.