Smuggling fugitive must pay for crimes

A CAPTURED fugitive serving five years for smuggling more than 40 million cigarettes into Felixstowe must now pay back nearly £35,000.William McPhee went on the run for nearly for four years until he was finally caught living under an assumed name in Athens.

A CAPTURED fugitive serving five years for smuggling more than 40 million cigarettes into Felixstowe must now pay back nearly £35,000.

William McPhee went on the run for nearly for four years until he was finally caught living under an assumed name in Athens.

Now the man described by sources as a wheeler-dealer is having to find £34,254 after Ipswich-based customs officers successfully applied to claw back money he made from his criminal activities.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act the 55-year-old must pay up or face an additional prison term.

The racketeer's downfall came after customs intercepted seven containers laden with cigarettes at Felixstowe port over a two-year period.

When the containers were opened, officers discovered approximately seven million cigarettes in each one. The amount of government duty evaded during the two years came to £6,822,659.

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The smuggling plot was finally doomed after customs swooped at Deben Freight's bonded warehouse at Anglia Airpark, Rendlesham, in November 2000, to round up the gang.

A bonded warehouse is authorised by customs for storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.

Before McPhee, of Rochdale, Lancashire, could face trial on February 11, 2002, he went on the run.

He was finally arrested after coming to the attention of Greek police on another matter and extradited from Athens on September 2, last year.

At his sentencing after pleading guilty to absconding from the original trial and conspiracy to import cigarettes, Chelmsford Crown Court heard Judge Christopher Ball QC describe McPhee as “a persistently dishonest man who made a living from dishonest dealings”.

Two other members of the smuggling gang were jailed in 2002 for their part in the importations.

They were Deben Freight's managing director Simon Bellamy, of Narrow Way, Wenhaston, who was sentenced to 30 months and Victor Bellamy, of Celeborn Street, Chelmsford, who got six months.

N What do you think of taking the proceeds of crime back from criminals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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