Suspended jail term for Leeds butcher twice caught with illicit cigarettes

Leeds Crown Court.

Leeds Crown Court.

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A Leeds butcher who was twice caught with more than 75,000 illicit cigarettes has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

Azad Gharib Khader, 35, of Boston Tower, Leeds, was spotted by police driving erratically in a Vauxhall Insignia on Marlborough Road, Coventry on 11 February last year. When he was pulled over, police discovered 77,000 non-duty paid cigarettes, which were later seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Yet, less than a month after answering bail for that offence, Khader was again pulled over by police, this time on Centenary Way, Rotherham on 14 May 2015. A search of his Volkswagen van revealed 78,000 illicit cigarettes hidden amongst meat products.

Mr Recorder Woolfall sentenced Khader to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, after he had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to two counts of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty totalling £36,986.47.

Khader must also carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

After the sentencing hearing, an HMRC spokesperson said: “Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1bn a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”