Northern Ireland

Men from Northern Ireland jailed over £1.8m alcohol fraud

Two men from Northern Ireland who hijacked the details of haulage firms to smuggle nearly 200,000 litres of alcohol into the UK have been jailed.

Kieran Patrick Hughes, 55, from Portadown, was sentenced to six years and Ballykelly man William Canning, 44, to 27 months in prison.

Using faked paperwork, they claimed to import vinegar, fruit juice, detergent and water into the UK from Europe.

By doing so, they avoided paying nearly £2m duty on the alcohol.

The investigation was led by HM Customs.

David Margree, from HM Customs, said: "Over 18 months these men attempted to flood the UK with illicit alcohol, with the aim of lining their own pockets, at the expense of UK taxpayers.

"They hijacked details from legitimate hauliers in order to disguise the fact that they were committing fraud.

"The alcohol was sold on and the profits used to fund further criminality, undercutting legitimate retailers who could not compete with these fraudsters."

The total revenue evaded was £1,807,217.

Both men will serve half their sentence in prison and half on licence.

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