Driver cleared of smuggling tobacco

A SUFFOLK lorry driver has been cleared of evading £139,000 in customs duty by smuggling tobacco into the UK.Colin Morris claimed he knew nothing about the 1,412kg of tobacco found amoung a load of wood he had collected in Holland.

A SUFFOLK lorry driver has been cleared of evading £139,000 in customs duty by smuggling tobacco into the UK.

Colin Morris claimed he knew nothing about the 1,412kg of tobacco found amoung a load of wood he had collected in Holland.

And it took a jury at Maidstone Crown Court less than an hour to return a unanimous not guilty verdict.

Morris, 51, of Nedging Tye, left the dock smiling.

Julian Dale, defending, successfully applied to Recorder Philip Moor for travel expenses covering 2,500 miles to various courts in the run up to his trial.

Morris at the time had his own company called Unicorn but was carrying the wood for Sea Lane.

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He told Customs & Excise officers he left England on February 23 last year and travelled through Belgium to an area near Rotterdam, Holland.

He said he off-loaded a quantity of paper and then picked up the wood, which was to be used for kitchens. He said he was present when it was loaded and made sure it was secure.

Morris was stopped by customs officers at Dover docks on the return journey. He was asked what his load was. The driver said he was taking it to Chelmsford.

When asked if he had any excise goods on board, Morris said he had the legal limit of 60 pouches of tobacco.

The lorry was examined and officers found a large number of brown cardboard boxes containing tobacco.

Morris said: "They were not there when I looked. I have been stopped four times in the last four weeks. I am not going to bring anything in."