Tayside and Central Scotland

'Heavy smoker' is caught smuggling 33,000 cigarettes

Edinburgh and Glasgow airports
Image caption Kowal was caught with thousands of cigarettes at customs at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports

A "heavy smoker" caught smuggling 33,000 cigarettes into Scotland has been ordered to pay more than £9,000 in duties.

Iwona Monica Kowal was caught with contraband cigarettes hidden in her baggage on three separate occasions at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports in 2013.

The 44-year-old, from Dundee, admitted trying to avoid paying excise duty.

A civil order was made for recovery of the £9,240, and a sheriff sentenced Kowal to 200 hours of unpaid work.

The English student was first caught with 15,800 contraband cigarettes at Glasgow Airport on 8 April, 2013, as she flew back from Poland.

She was let off with a warning that the upper limit was 800 cigarettes, but was caught with a further 15,000 on 2 June that year after arriving at Edinburgh Airport from Gdansk. She was caught again with 3,800 cigarettes on 21 October.

'Serious concerns'

On each occasion, Kowal insisted that she had funded the trips from her own savings, and said the cigarettes were for herself, her partner and a friend.

She claimed to smoke two cartons a week herself, and defence agent Charlie McCusker told Paisley Sheriff Court that Kowal had become a "heavy smoker" following the death of her son.

The court heard that HM Revenue and Customs suspected that the cigarettes were being brought into the country for onward sale.

Sheriff Colin Pettigrew said he also had "serious concerns" about the idea the cigarettes were for personal use.

However, after hearing that a civil action for recovery of the duty money had been granted, he sentenced Kowal to a 12-month community payback order, requiring her to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

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