A MAN who once set up a floating off-licence off the coast at Hartlepool is set to tell his tale in a new book.
Phil Berriman was caught by Customs Officers with more than £120,000 worth of booze and cigarettes in 2004.
It took them several hours to off-load the thousands of cigarettes and boxes of spirits and tobacco from his vessel, The Rich Harvest, after it came into Hartlepool Marina for repairs.
The father-of-three had set up business selling duty free goods in international waters, 13 miles off the coast, and claimed he was acting well within the law.
The business was shut down after Customs officers declared that despite his sales tactics being legal, shoppers would still have to declare and pay duty on the goods once they set foot back on UK soil.
Mr Berriman, 57, originally from Norton, Teesside, is now set to share his tale in e-book The Baccy Boat, which will be released soon on Amazon and Smashwords.
I was the victim and I proved it in court. But to this day people still don’t believe me and say I was lucky to get off.Phil Berriman
He said: “I was doing it secretly until I had an accident and the lifeboat picked me up.”
The Baccy Boat will come on the back of another e-book Mr Berriman has just released.
The Waccy Baccy Boat, which is available on Amazon and Smashwords, tells the story of his prosecution for smuggling the biggest-ever haul of cannabis into the UK.
He was arrested 21 years ago after sailing a yacht loaded with 3.5 tons of cannabis, today worth £12m, into the Helford River, near Falmouth on the south coast of England.
It was only after a perilous 3,000-mile voyage which almost cost him and his crew their lives.
He was cleared of all charges after a judge and jury heard he’d acted under duress from Tyneside gangsters who had threatened to kill his family.
But Mr Berriman, who now lives in County Durham, has broken his silence and released the book to clear his name with doubters who still claim he got away with it.
He said: “Nothing could be further from the truth. I was the victim and I proved it in court. But to this day people still don’t believe me and say I was lucky to get off.”
“This should put them right. I’ve waited a long time to put the record straight. But I’m delighted with what I’ve achieved. My inbox is going wild with compliments.
“The smuggling, voyage, remand and court case is fact. I’ve packed the book with stories, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty.”
The book details the violence in the night clubs of Teesside, the wild parties with top DJs at his Norton home, and adventures on the Costa del Crime, rubbing shoulders with international mobsters.
How Phil made headlines
PHIL Berriman made headlines in 2004 when he set up Hartlepool’s first offshore off-licence.
He started selling cigarettes and alcohol from his yacht, the Rich Harvest, 13 miles off the coast of the town.
It was reported at the time that the scheme could earn Mr Berriman up to £10,000 a week.
He would travel with his business partner, Trevor Lyons, to places like Tenerife, Germany and Gibraltar, bringing back up to 5,000 boxes of 200 cigarettes and a thousand litres of spirits.
People would then travel out to the yacht where they were allowed to buy up to 30 boxes of cigarettes and the same in litres of alcohol.
The business was halted in July 2004 after Mr Berriman pulled his yacht into Hartlepool Marina.
Customs Officers seized more than £120,000 worth of booze and cigarettes. It took them several hours to off-load the haul.
The business was shut down after Customs declared that despite his sales tactics being legal, shoppers would still have to declare and pay duty on the goods once they set foot back on UK soil.