Three Islington brothers jailed after haul of nearly a million black market cigarettes are found

16:17 14 August 2012

...

...

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Three brothers caught with a haul of nearly a million black market cigarettes were jailed for a total of 44 months on Monday.

Market traders Cliff and Roy Collins – and their brother Francis – all from Danbury Street, Islington, bought the foreign and counterfeit tobacco to sell on to unsuspecting punters in London pubs.

They were put under surveillance after customs officials noticed them making regular trips to the family lock-up in Borough. They were caught red-handed last October and a search later revealed an inventory running to 887,000 cigarettes.

These included packets of Benson and Hedges illegally imported from the Middle East and counterfeit cigarettes in cartons bearing the Spanish Palace brand.

None of the £176,440 duty due to HM Revenue and Customs had been paid, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Neil King accepted the brothers did not know some of the cigarettes were fakes, but said: “Once you dabble in the black market, you end up with black goods. There were no health checks. They could have been anything, frankly.”

Tony Wyatt, defending Cliff and Roy Collins, said they succumbed to temptation as they saw the profits from their market stalls tumble.They now accept this was “very foolish and stupid.”

Mark Bagshawe, for Francis Collins, urged the judge to impose a lesser sentence because of his client’s eye condition, which renders him partially-sighted.

Judge Joanna Korner QC, told the brothers: “Fraud on the revenue is not, as it is sometimes thought, a victimless offence. That is why the courts treat it so seriously.”

The trio admitted conspiring to fraudulently evade customs tariffs. Cliff Collins, 53, and Roy Collins, 47, were handed 16-month sentences, while Francis Collins, 41, was jailed for a year.

Latest Stories

28 minutes ago
I'm not sure what he's going for here but I don't think it's worked (Picture via Gumtree)

In just a pair of shorts lying draped across his beloved Casio keyboard, this south London Gumtree seller is taking an unorthodox approach to shifting his instrument.

Read more
08:20
Police have released CCTV of the man they believe is a witness to an alleged rape in February (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

Police want to trace a Good Samaritan they believe helped a rape victim in Homerton and have released CCTV in a bid to find him.

Read more
Yesterday, 18:35
Great Britain's Jenny Jones with her bronze medal won in the Sochi Winter Olympics (Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

Snowboarder Jenny Jones has issued a desperate plea for help after her laptop containing all of her photographs of her Olympic success was stolen from her car.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

How much do you really know about QPR legends like Les Ferdinand? Picture: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

Test your knowledge of QPR’s greatest players with our fantastic legends quiz.

Read more
How much do you know about films in London? (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Do you know your Lock Stock from your Long Good Friday, Sliding Doors from Shakespeare in Love?

Read more
How much about this great city do you really know? Take our true Londoner quiz and find out (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Do you know your apples from your pears? Take our Cockney quiz and see how much of a Londoner you really are.

Read more
Guess the manager quiz. Here's a hint, it's not these four.

The managerial merry-go-round spins quickly these days so do you think you’ve got the knowledge to recognise the faces of all these football bosses?

Read more
A normal day at London Liverpool Street station

This quiz is for people who think they know the Tube and rail inside out.

Read more