Serial tobacco smuggler sentenced

Gatwick airport
Gatwick airport

An unemployed woman who smuggled cigarettes and tobacco into the UK through Gatwick Airport has been sentenced.

Lavinia Akyurt, of Southsea, Hampshire, was arrested in September 2016 at Gatwick.

HM Revenue and Customs said the 42-year-old smuggled the items into the country through Gatwick, London Stansted and Durham Tees Valley four times between January 2015 and September 2016.

She also organised two further smuggling attempts by family members.

In total Akyurt, who was living in Hartlepool at the time, evaded £23,549 in excise duty and VAT.

She pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Lewes Crown Court on June 21.

Christopher Gill, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Lavinia Akyurt thought it was acceptable to undercut hardworking local shopkeepers by smuggling tobacco. HMRC officers have now put a stop to this illegal smuggling scheme.

“We encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco to contact our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”

A spokesman for HMRC said 59,400 cigarettes and 23.25 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco were smuggled into the UK and seized.

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