The man behind a counterfeit tobacco production racket has been given a 12 month suspended prison sentence.
Ian Marshall, 53, of Church Farm, Moorhouses, New Bolingbroke, appeared at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday charged with two offences of fraudulent evasion of excise duty and one offence under the Fraud Act in relation to a tobacco processing machine.
The court was told how HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers raided Marshall’s home on February 25, 2014, and seized a machine which could potentially process up to a tonne an hour of raw leaf tobacco.
Marshall, was found to be behind the fraud where 80kg of hand-rolling tobacco, unused pouches, cellophane wrappings and counterfeit Benelux tax stamps were found.
Officers estimated the duty evasion value at £19,000.
Marshall was arrested at the premises on February 25, 2014, and later charged with the evasion of excise duty and an offence under the Fraud Act in relation to the tobacco processing machine.
Assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC Stuart Taylor said: “By taking this machine out of action, we have stopped the potential loss of millions of pounds in evaded duty.
“Marshall had no regard to the potential harm such criminal acts cause to individuals, communities and legitimate businesses.
“We would urge anyone with information about people dealing in illicit cigarettes or tobacco to contact us on 0800 59 5000.”
A spokesman said the processing machine contained tobacco residue suggesting recent use and was capable of producing around one tonne of tobacco every hour.
They said this equates to £134,000 loss of duty per hour, when in operation.
Marshall was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and placed on a curfew from 8pm-7am at Lincoln Crown Court after pleading guilty to the offences.