A lorry driver who was caught smuggling millions of cigarettes into the UK, has been jailed for 14 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

HMRC officers stopped a lorry after it arrived in Holyhead on a ferry from Dublin on 16 October 2017. A search of the trailer revealed 3.53 million illicit cigarettes, worth an estimated £953,000 in lost duty and taxes. The driver, James O’Reilly, from County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, was arrested.

Tracey Noon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Criminals like O’Reilly create an uneven playing field for legitimate businesses and put a burden on the honest majority. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year.

“Tax fraud takes funding from the public services we all rely on. It affects us all and I would ask anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco to report it online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

On 26 February 2018, O’Reilly pleaded guilty to excise fraud at Caernarfon Crown Court. He was jailed for 14 months yesterday (26 March 2018) at the same court.