Malton pensioner ordered to pay back £50,000 after being caught with stash of contraband tobacco

A Malton pensioner has been ordered to pay over £50,000 into the public purse after he was caught with a massive stash of contraband cigarettes and tobacco.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:42 pm
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 2:44 pm

Kenneth Reginald Wood, 71, had stashed the tobacco in a lock-up without paying the requisite duty, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Angus MacDonald said that officers from HM Revenue & Customs raided the rented unit in October 2019 and found 85,500 cigarettes and 112kg of hand-rolled tobacco on which £51,472 of tax had not been paid.

Wood wasn’t present at the time, but CCTV footage showed he had been going in and out of the lock-up on five separate occasions in September and October, lugging boxes out of the unit and loading them into his vehicle.

York Crown Court.

The pensioner was arrested a few months later when officers searched his home and vehicle.

“During the search of his home, a further 123 sleeves of cigarettes were recovered from the kitchen and 55 further packets of different brands of cigarettes (were seized) from his vehicle,” added Mr MacDonald.

The total fraud, or evasion of duty, from the two seizures at the lock-up and Wood’s home came to more than £54,000.

Wood admitted he had bought the dodgy tobacco to sell on “and make extra money to live on”, said the prosecutor.

He said that Wood had both state and private pensions, as well as about £10,000 savings.

Wood, of Ropery Walk, appeared for a financial-confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) on Friday after receiving an eight-month suspended prison sentence in February for the fraudulent evasion of duty on tobacco goods.

He was said to have benefited from his illegal activities to the tune of £54,775.

He was said to have £52,198 available to him.

Judge Simon Hickey ordered Wood to pay back the money within two months.

If he fails to do so, he will be facing a nine-month prison sentence.

Wood’s solicitor advocate had claimed that the pensioner had been acting under “coercion or intimidation” from people higher up the illegal tobacco chain.