A FIND OF 18,500 illicit cigarettes by Customs & Excise officers at Rosslare Harbour led to an eight month jail sentence for a 37-year-old factory supervisor.
Prosecuting Andrius Latvenas from Lithuania, Edward Boyce from Customs told the District Court last week how the tobacco came to light on November 28. The cigarettes were in a Volkswagen Transporter van that disembarked from the 'Oscar Wilde' ferry. Some of the hoard was concealed in side panels of the vehicle while the rest was concealed in luggage.
The court was told that the potential loss to the coffers of the State in excise and VAT amounted to €6,641. It was stated that Latvenas had mentioned an address at Cromwellsfort Avenue in Wexford, but did not appear to know the number of the house.
Solicitor Caitriona Walsh represented the accused, taking her instructions with the assistance of a Lithuanian interpreter. Ms. Walsh said that her client worked as supervisor in a confectionery factory back home where he earned €300 per month. He also drew disability payments after injuring his back in a road accident.
The defendant came to Ireland to visit relatives, Ms. Walsh explained, intending to stay just three weeks. He had borrowed the van from the mother-inlaw of a friend to make the journey. The van had been impounded, while he was arrested and remained in custody until Wednesday's court sitting.
Judge Gerard Haughton observed that the case illustrated the potential for huge profits to be made by successful smugglers, costing the State hundreds of millions of euro each year. He felt that the only way to discourage smuggling was to take a firm stand, in this case by imposing the prison sentence.