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Courts: Cigarettes smuggled in hollow Buddha statues

By Ben Mitchell

Published 20/06/2015

A statue of Buddha filled with cigarettes that was discovered by Border Force officers at Southampton Port in June 2013. HMRC/PA Wire.
A statue of Buddha filled with cigarettes that was discovered by Border Force officers at Southampton Port in June 2013. HMRC/PA Wire.

A furniture importer used hollow statues of Buddha to smuggle more than 100,000 illicit cigarettes into the UK.

James Reber (51), of Second Avenue, Brighton, was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty at Luton Crown Court to evading tax and duty of £31,000 on the cigarettes found by Border Officers at Southampton Port in June 2013.

He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Officers found five fibreglass statues of Buddha filled with cigarettes inside an Indonesian shipping container.

John Cooper of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs said: "This was a crafty attempt to smuggle illicit cigarettes into the UK, solely to avoid paying excise duty and VAT."

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