Man caught with 15k cigarettes at Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh Airport. Picture: TSPL
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A heavy smoker caught at Edinburgh Airport smuggling 15,000 cigarettes into Scotland from Poland will have to cough up over £9000 after admitting in court that she had been attempting to evade the duty payable.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard how Iwona Monica Kowal, a student from Dundee, was caught on three separate occasions by UK Border Agency staff after flying from Poland into Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

She was caught with a total of 33,800 cigarettes stuffed into her baggage. The excise duty on the haul would have been £9240.84.

Depute fiscal Frank Clarke said that after being intercepted carrying 15,800 contraband cigarettes and subsequently quizzed by officers of HM Revenue & Customs as she flew in to Glasgow Airport on April 8, 2013, Kowal was issued with a warning and given documentation outlining what the personal entitlement was.

Despite that, she was caught on two further occasions – always while entering the green nothing-to-declare 
Customs channel.

On June 2, she was found to have 15,000 cigarettes in her luggage on arrival at Edinburgh Airport from Gdansk and on October 21, she attempted to bring in 3800 cigarettes through the city airport.

Mr Clarke said that the upper limit was 800 cigarettes and that had previously been explained to the 44-year-old.

On each occasion, she claimed that she had funded the trips from her own savings and money given to her by her boyfriend.

The cigarettes, she maintained, were for herself, her partner and a friend. She told investigators that she alone smoked two cartons per week.

The court was told, however that Kowal, of Adamson Court, Dundee, had been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance at the time and was now in receipt of a bursary towards her English studies in the city.

Mr Clarke told the court: “HM Revenue & Customs had suspicions that someone was funding these trips and that she was bringing these cigarettes into the country for onward sale.”

Kowal had been warned that she could face prosecution and that tax assessment was also a possibility.

Now, it was revealed, a civil action for recovery of the duty involved had been successfully mounted and decree granted.

Defence agent Charlie McCusker told the court that following the sudden death of her son, his client had become a heavy smoker to help her deal with the grief she felt.

Since the date of the last offence, she had been in no further trouble.

Sheriff Colin Pettigrew told Kowal that he had “serious concerns” about her claim to be bringing the cigarettes in to be used by her and her partner and friend.

After considering the circumstances, he said imprisonment was not an option and made her the subject of a 12-month community payback order requiring her to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

newsen@edinburghnews.com