Peterborough brothers convicted over £1.3 million cigarette scheme

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Two brothers from Peterborough and a market trader from Watford who brought six million cigarettes into the UK through a Waltham Abbey industrial yard, without paying £1.3 million duty have been convicted of evading customs duty.

Now they must wait to hear their fate. Sentencing was adjourned at Chelmsford Crown Court until next month.

The crates were transported from Holland through Dover and Customs officers raided the Essex yard as the Yeoman European B.V. truck was being unloaded.

Driver Colin Yeoman, (53), of Ayres Drive, Peterborough, and Brian Yeoman, 50, of Hanbury, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, who helped with the planning, have been on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court for over a week.

They were joined in the dock by market trader Bernard Levy, 51, of Willoughby, Bushey.

All three pleaded not guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of customs duty between 1 and 31 July 2014.

The jury of nine women and three men returned majority guilty verdicts of 11-1 for the two Yeomans and unanimous against Levy.

Judge David Turner QC adjourned sentence until 7 April and remanded the defendants on bail.

A fourth man who had already pleaded guilty and will be dealt with at the same time. He is David Hall, 51, of Selborne Road, Southgate, north London. He led Colin Yeoman to the yard and was loading some of the cigarettes into his van when Customs raided.

The prosecution alleged the Yeomans set up a bogus collection order from Creed Foodservices based in Cheltenham to deliver 30 pallets of “croissants” from Holland to Dairy Crest.

The brothers and Levy claimed they didn’t know the boxes contained cigarettes. The Yeomans, who did not give evidence, said they were told en route the load was “perfume.”

Levy, who did give evidence in his defence, said he thought the crates contained sports goods.

The court heard that Levy, a market trader based at Howard House industrial unit, Waltham Abbey, was being paid “a couple of thousand” to help unload and store some of the crates in containers he owned and rented out at the yard. Howard House was owned by his son, it was said.

The prosecution claimed the Yeomans carried out an “elaborate charade” - pretending emails had been sent by Creed and pre-preparing documentation.