Press release -
Yorkshire smuggling gang ordered to repay criminal profit
Three members of a gang of Yorkshire smugglers who said their tobacco was “wet, mouldy and smells like manure, but sells because it’s cheap” have been ordered to pay back £124,833 after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) smashed their criminal operation.
The plot, which flooded the north of England with more than 150 million cigarettes and two tonnes of low quality tobacco, was masterminded by Doncaster man Billy-Joe Wall. Along with William Tomlinson from Retford and a customer of the gang, David Donaghey from Newcastle upon Tyne, they were ordered to repay money that they had made from their involvement in the crime.
Dave Cowie, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“These men made a lot of money from their illegal activity and it is only fair that in addition to their criminal convictions, they should be made to repay the money they so brazenly defrauded.
“During our investigation it became clear that these individuals were living beyond their means. In just over two years one of the gang’s ringleaders, Billy-Joe Wall, gambled away almost £4 million – money that these criminals were making at the expense of the taxpayer”.
The men were ordered to repay the illegal proceeds from their criminal activity by His Honour Judge Gosling at Derby Crown Court yesterday (29 October).
HMRC had also recovered £250,000 in cash that was discovered during property searches hidden in plastic bags under a bed.
The men were arrested in early 2011 as part of an HMRC investigation codenamed Operation Hornbeam. HMRC discovered that, under the direction of Wall, the gang had created a distribution network that transported cigarettes and tobacco throughout the north of England to warehouses, storage yards and farms. The shipments were then broken down into smaller loads and delivered to towns and cities across the UK to sell on the black market.
A hearing for two other members of the gang, David Harty and John Sabin, was adjourned at the hearing yesterday and a new date will be set in due course. Sabin is currently on HMRC’s most wanted fugitives list after he absconded before he could be sentenced,
Notes for Editors:
1. Personal details
Billy Joe Wall (aka Bradley),02/09/1984, fromHerrick Gardens, Doncaster.
Wall is a close associate of Harty and managed the distribution of the cigarettes and recruitment of others to act as delivery drivers. Wall was also a conduit between the gang and various customers who are named in the records kept by Harty. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade excise duty and charges of money laundering. He was sentenced to four years and four months in prison and an additional 32 months to run concurrent for money laundering charges in November 2012 at Derby Crown Court.
Wall was ordered to repay £72,365 within six months or face a default sentence of 18 months in prison.
William Bowie Tomlinson, 11/01/1984, fromLifton Avenue, Retford.
Tomlinson’s role was to source and manage storage facilities where the tobacco products could be held securely awaiting distribution. This role would have involved him in the financial side of the operation in order to pay for storage facilities. It is also believed he recruited others from the Retford area to act as drivers or labourers. Tomlinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade excise duty and was sentenced to three years eight months in jail in November 2012 at Derby Crown Court.
Tomlinson was ordered to repay £35,468 within six months or face a default sentence of 18 months in prison.
David Donaghey,23/10/1984, fromWilton Avenue, Newcastle.
Donaghey, who was known to the gang as ‘Donut’, was a customer noted within the order books found during the investigation. The books noted that Donut had received 1,308,000 smuggled cigarettes from the gang at a cost of £122,490. He was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment in January 2013.
Donaghey was ordered to repay £17,000 within six months or face a default sentence of 44 weeks in prison.
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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.