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Smuggling appeal big fails

PUBLISHED: 10:40 06 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

TWO men who were part of a plot to smuggle 30 million cigarettes into the country by arranging to have them hidden in legitimate consignments have failed to get their convictions quashed.

TWO men who were part of a plot to smuggle 30 million cigarettes into the country by arranging to have them hidden in legitimate consignments have failed to get their convictions quashed.

Simon Charles Trevor Proctor and Victor David Bellamy used a bonded warehouse freight company in Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, where Proctor was managing director, as a cover for their activities, Mr Justice Forbes told London's Appeal Court yesterday .

They used bogus companies as "a smoke screen" and "created a false paper trail" so that anyone investigating would conclude that the cigarettes had been slipped inside the legitimate consignments without their knowledge.

Proctor, 37, of Narrow Way, Wenhaston, and Bellamy, 46, of Celeborn Street, Chelmsford, were convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court of conspiracy to evade excise duty. On 28 June, 2002, Proctor was jailed for 30 months and Bellamy for six months.

Both men denied at their trials any knowledge of the plot, which took place between June, 1999 and December, 2000 following a lengthy police surveillance operation, said Mr Justice Forbes.

The grounds of both men's appeals rested on whether evidence put before the jury of what shippers and importers knew of the Customs & Excise operation was prejudicial to the men's case and should therefore have been withheld, and also the judge's summing up on their roles.

But, refusing both men permission to challenge their convictions, Mr Justice Forbes, sitting with Lord Justice Thomas and Judge Findlay Baker, QC, said: "In our view the judge's summing up was lengthy, careful and clear and there was no suggestion that he failed to give the jury a balanced set of directions.

"There are no arguable grounds for appeal."


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