A TAX evader has been sentenced for an attempt to transport illegal cigarettes to a secret rendezvous in Bolton.

Hassan Mohammed Ismail, aged 43, of Bradford, was intercepted during a check by police on the M6, near Knutsford, heading north in June 2 last year.

The police called in Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators, who interviewed Ismail and he was later charged with duty evasion offences.

Mike O’Grady, assistant director criminal investigation HMRC, said: “Ismail tried to deny his involvement in this illegal trade but his mobile told another story. It was clear he was involved in the large scale distribution of non-UK duty-paid cigarettes.

“He admitted in interview that he was en route to Bolton to meet a man to deliver the cigarettes. Tobacco fraud costs honest taxpayers more than £2 billion a year, undercutting honest businesses and drawing people into wider criminality.”

In court, Ismail admitted that the 8,000 PECT7, 50,000 Armeec and 140 mixed brands cigarettes were not UK duty-paid and that he was attempting to evade more than £20,712.69 in excise duty and VAT.

He was given a community work order of 200 hours, plus £85 court costs and £15 victim support surcharge. The duty free goods have been forfeited and were recycled to power the National Grid.