Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Lorry driver caught smuggling cigarettes into UK on the run

Richard David Curtis
Image caption Richard David Curtis, 57, was found guilty in his absence of evading more than £1.3m in excise duty

A lorry driver is on the run after being caught smuggling more than five-and-a-half million cigarettes into the UK under boxes of frozen chips.

Richard David Curtis, 57, from Bawtry, South Yorkshire, was stopped at the Port of Dover in November 2013.

He failed to attend trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November 2016 and was found guilty of evading more than £1.3m in excise duty.

He was jailed for three years nine months in his absence.

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A total of 5,729,900 cigarettes were found hidden under boxes of chips in Curtis' HGV. He told customs officers in Dover he had spent the weekend in Belgium before collecting the food, and was unaware the lorry contained illicit cigarettes.

Image caption The HGV was searched at the Port of Dover in November 2013

A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear at court.

Curtis has links to Doncaster, the South Yorkshire area and Nottinghamshire.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are appealing for anyone who knows where he is to contact 0800 595 000.

Alan Tully, of the HMRC fraud unit, said: "Richard Curtis gambled with his liberty in a brazen bid to profit from smuggling illicit cigarettes into the UK.

"He lost and now he must face up to his crime and come forward to begin his time behind bars."

Image caption The cigarettes were found beneath boxes of frozen chips

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