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Most-wanted tax fugitive jailed

A cigarette smuggler on the Government's most-wanted list of tax fugitives has been jailed for four years after being found in Spain.

Malcolm McGowan, 61, fled the UK 12 years ago after being found guilty of smuggling 28.3 million cigarettes, worth around £16 million, into the country.

He was sentenced in his absence in December 2001, having cost the UK around £4 million in duty, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.

McGowan, who had previously lived in Nottingham and Edinburgh, was arrested at a swimming pool in Valencia on August 10 by the Guardia Civil.

Following his extradition, he appeared at Sheffield Crown Court to finally begin his four-year prison term.

Judge Julian Goose QC said: "You sought to evade justice and have been on the run for 12 years. You will now serve the four-year sentence you were given in 2001."

According to reports, McGowan was arrested in December 2011 following a tip-off that he was living in Valencia but went on the run for a second time after being granted bail.

He was one of 20 people accused of fleeing the country while owing hundreds of thousands of pounds - and in many instances millions - whose names and pictures were published by HMRC for the first time last year.

McGowan was part of a wider conspiracy to smuggle around 56 million cigarettes into the UK between November 1999 and March 2000, HMRC said.

Ten other men were involved in the plot, which cost the UK taxpayer more than £8.2 million, the authority said.

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