Former serviceman ordered to pay smuggling proceeds

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A FORMER RAF serviceman and a civilian accomplice have been ordered to pay back money they pocketed from a cigarette smuggling racket.

The pair were involved in a smuggling ring which saw more than seven million cigarettes brought into the country from abroad evading £1.3m in duty.

Paul Stephen Garbutt, who was discharged from service by the RAF, was ordered to repay £80,000 within six months or face a further 21 months in jail.

Lisa Victoria Harrison, a former financial adviser for a bank, was ordered to repay £95,000 with a 24-month default sentence if not paid in six months.

Both confiscation orders were made at Bristol Crown Court last week.

It comes after Garbutt and Harrison were two of seven people sentenced in February last year for smuggling and money laundering offences.

Garbutt, 31, a former RAF senior aircraftman, of Avon Grove, Billingham, was jailed for three years and four months.

Harrison, 36, of Sydney Road, Middlesbrough, was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence that was suspended for two years, and given 150-hours unpaid work.

They were convicted after a joint investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Special Investigations Branch.

The investigation uncovered a large scale smuggling operation bringing non-duty paid cigarettes into RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, and RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in 2008 and 2009.

Investigators found that at least 1.14m cigarettes were smuggled on flights from Oman, evading around £204,000 in revenue, and over six million cigarettes smuggled on flights from Afghanistan, evading almost £1.1m in revenue.

Richard Meadows, assistant director for criminal investigation from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), said: “We are determined to bring criminals like Garbutt and Harrison before the courts, not only to see them sentenced, but also to remove the proceeds of their crimes. Anyone with information about cigarette smuggling should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.”