A RUGBY man has been sentenced for his role in a plot to smuggle nearly 300 kilos of tobacco into the UK.
Dawood Walilay, 20, of Crick Road, Rugby, helped two others cheat the authorities - and cost the taxpayer £58,300.
Sahil Sheikh, an undergraduate at the De Montfort University in Leicester, led the criminal operation and recruited couriers to carry out his smuggling activities. He funded the travel, hotels and purchase of the tobacco in Dubai and organised its sale in the UK.
Sheikh and his two couriers, Muhibur Rahman - also from Leicester - and Walilay, were arrested at Heathrow airport on their return from Dubai. Between them they were carrying 291 kilos of shisha tobacco.
John Cooper, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, which brought the prosecution, said: “Sheikh led and organised what he thought was a sophisticated plot, along with his gang members, to get rich quick by lining his own pockets through smuggling and selling illicit tobacco to the local Leicestershire community.
“In effect he stole taxpayer’s cash by not paying duty on the goods.”
Shisha is a smoking mixture smoked in a water pipe. It consists of tobacco, molasses, glycerine and flavouring.
Walilay was sentenced to 150 hours of community service by a judge at Isleworth Crown Court.
Sheikh was jailed for 28 weeks suspended for 18 months, and Rahman was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.
All three had pleaded guilty to smuggling and conspiracy offences inder the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
Confiscation proceedings are underway.
HMRC encourages anyone with information about illicit tobacco sales or smuggling to call 0800 59 5000. Calls can be made anonymously.”