A Sutton man, who used a false name to try and hide his illegal cigarette operation, has been sentenced.
Philip Tatham, 53, of Alfreton Road, was found to have used a false name to rent a storage unit to hold 198,000 illegal cigarettes and 125kgs of hand rolling tobacco, worth £74,989.16 in unpaid duty, following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Nottinghamshire Trading Standards with the police inspected King Self Storage, on Prospect Close, Kirkby and tobacco detection dogs highlighted the container Tatham rented.
The case was passed to HMRC for investigation and officers found the rental agreement showed the unit was paid for by a Dean Johnson.
The address provided did not exist but checks on his phone number revealed it belonged to Tatham.
A Stanley knife was found in the unit and Tatham’s DNA was found on it.
He admitted renting the unit but claimed he simply sub-let it to a third party who must have owned the cigarettes.
However he was convicted of handling the illegal cigarettes and tobacco. He was sentenced to 18 months prison suspended for two years at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday (July 13).
Confiscation proceedings to recover the money have begun.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “Tatham is paying the price for thinking he was above the law. Dealing in illegal cigarettes takes funding from our vital public services and undercuts hardworking, honest businesses.