Smuggling case general manager in court

THE general manager of a Suffolk freight firm standing trial for allegedly smuggling millions of cigarettes into the country told a court he had very little to do with the running of the company.

THE general manager of a Suffolk freight firm standing trial for allegedly smuggling millions of cigarettes into the country told a court he had very little to do with the running of the company.

Despite his elevated title, Simon Proctor told jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court that he was ignorant of the financial situation of Deben Freight Services based at Rendlesham and had little to do with the overall running of the place.

Proctor, 34, of Narrow Way Wenhaston is standing trial accused of conspiring to import two tonnes of cannabis with a street value of £7 million into Britain.

He is also accused of conspiring to avoid £1.2 million in tax on seven million cigarettes.

Also standing trial is 43-year-old Victor Bellamy of Celeborn Street, Chelmsford who faces the same charges and Christopher Tarrant, 47 of Hall Lane, Blundeston who is charged solely with cigarette smuggling.

Customs investigators in Ipswich were involved in a seven-month investigation called Operation Facelift.

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Proctor was allegedly caught red handed during a customs sting unpacking cigarettes smuggled in container that was labelled as carrying cleaning fluids.

He has denied the charges and said that he had no knowledge of how the company was run and who was involved in it.

Even though his father, Tony, was director of the company for a time, Proctor told prosecuting barrister Michael Brompton that they never spoke about work – even though they lived together.

When Mr Brompton suggested to Proctor that Deben Freight Services might have been having financial difficulties Proctor was adamant that he had no idea about that side of the company and never questioned it.

He said: "Home was home and the warehouse was the warehouse we left it behind when we went home."

Judge Christopher Ball QC heard how Victor Bellamy was involved in setting up Deben Freight Services, but he also had another company called Genesis Services Ltd.

Proctor told the court that he had not been concerned when a document was issued to say that no goods from Genesis Services Ltd could leave the warehouse without the agreement of Ipswich Excise department.

He also did not know that Mr Bellamy was involved with the tobacco industry.

Proctor said that Bellamy would occasionally drop into Deben Freight services but claims he had little to do with him.

Proctor said: "He would come in to see my father and they would go into his office and close the door and that would be that."

His father resigned from the company in 1999, his resignation letter was read out in court showing that he left under something of a cloud.

It claimed he was being harassed at his home because of company debts and that workers, bankers and creditors treated his word as a joke.

But despite being general manager and the fact that he still lived at home, Proctor claimed he had no knowledge of the unrest.

He said: "I was not privy to his conversations on the telephone at home.

"As I said I had nothing to do with the financial side of the business."

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