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Heywood beer smuggler jailed

Press Release   •   Dec 02, 2013 16:26 GMT

A lorry driver from Heywood, who was caught four times with illegal loads of beer smuggled from France, has been jailed for a £131,000 fraud.

Simon O’Hare, 29, was stopped on four separate occasions in London, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators as he was delivering the smuggled beer.

John Pointing, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“O’Hare lied about where the beer came from and the associated false paperwork each time he was caught, but continued to smuggle, despite warnings he could be prosecuted. Selling smuggled alcohol at knock-down prices gives criminals an unfair profit and threatens the livelihoods of honest retailers.

“We urge the public to come forward and let us know if they have information about the sale, transport, or storage of suspect alcohol or tobacco on 0800 59 5000. You can also report suspicious trading, tax evasion or smuggling via our website to help us tackle organised crime.”

O’Hare would drive his empty HGV to France, returning with pallets of beer which, on paper, were destined for an Essex bonded warehouse, where non-duty paid alcohol is stored. However, he would divert the deliveries to wholesalers around the UK, evading UK excise duty. On each trip, HMRC found evidence he had attempted to alter registration numbers and markings on the vehicles in an attempt to evade detection.

Notes for editors

1. Simon O’Hare, DOB 01/12/83, a haulage driver, previously of Starkey Street, Heywood, Greater Manchester, now of Alder Grove, Ingol, Preston, Lancashire. He pleaded guilty on 4 November 2013 to four counts of being knowingly concerned in carrying, removing, depositing, harbouring, keeping or concealing or in any manner dealing with goods chargeable with a duty which had not been paid, with intent to defraud Her Majesty of the duty under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, and was jailed for eight months per count to run concurrently on 29 November 2013 at Manchester Crown Court.

2. O’Hare was caught on four occasions with diverted loads containing 26 pallets of mixed beer:

  • 29 February 2012 at a licensed cash and carry store in Abbey Wood, London.
  • 6 March 2012 at a licensed wholesaler in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
  • 22 March 2012 at a retail park in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
  • 20 June 2012 at a licensed cash and carry store in Charlton, London.

3. HMRC has launched 57 taskforces since 2011, including several targeting the road haulage industry and licensed trade. Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud.

4. .Taskforces have been made possible by the Government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011-12, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014-15. A further 16 taskforces are planned for 2013-14 and up to 30 for 2014-15.

5. Photographs available on HMRC’s Flickr channel

6. Follow us on Twitter @hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.