Smuggling gang get total of 30 years

A FORMER murderer and an Ipswich docker were among six men jailed for a total of nearly 31 years for plotting to smuggle 12 million cigarettes through the town's port.

A FORMER murderer and an Ipswich docker were among six men jailed for a total of nearly 31 years for plotting to smuggle 12 million cigarettes through the town's port.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that the men conspired together to import 600,000 packets of cigarettes through Ipswich docks, evading duty of £2.161 million.

The cigarettes were hidden in two containers carrying cardboard boxes of acrylic material used for clothing.

The court heard that the cigarettes, which were sold on the black market, were counterfeit and contained cyanide.


You may also want to watch:


Martin Eastabrook, aka Barr, Gary Frost, David Turner, Vincent Wilson, John Draper and Reuben Butler were yesterday jailed for their roles in the conspiracy.

Martin Beddoe, prosecuting, told the court Customs and Excise carried out a surveillance operation in 2005 which uncovered a plan to use a legitimate company as a front for an illegal enterprise.

Most Read

Eastabrook, who was serving life for murdering a sub postmaster during a robbery, met Turner and Frost whilst in Norwich prison.

The former docker then became friendly with Wilson, who worked at Ipswich docks, and who took demotion to transfer from the port's West Bank to Cliff Quay to assist the conspiracy.

The men used a company called OLC Solutions to ship the containers to Ipswich and a London account was set up to transfer money to Beirut to pay for the acrylic material.

Mr Beddoe said the first container arrived in Ipswich on September 8 and was taken to a farm location for unloading.

The second container arrived marked for inspection by Customs and Excise but Wilson manipulated the port's documentation and computer system in an effort to get the container moved to the farm, unloaded, reloaded legitimately and taken back to the dock.

However the surveillance operation followed the container and lorry to the farm, the cigarettes were seized and Butler was arrested.

Wilson was arrested at Cliff Quay with a “dirty” mobile telephone used to contact the other men and about £1,000 in cash.

At the Polymore Offices in Harlow where Frost and Turner worked, documents linked to OLC Solutions were found.

At Turner's home documents relating to OLC Solutions with his and Frost's fingerprints on them were discovered.

Wilson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade duty on July 31 last year. Frost and Butler pleaded guilty at the start of the trial in April this year. The main organisers, Eastabrook, Draper and Turner, were found guilty by an Ipswich Crown Court jury.

What do you think of this case? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

JUDGE David Goodin said one of the aggravating features of the conspiracy was that all but 200,000 of the cigarettes in the first container reached the black market.

In sentencing Martin Eastabrook, Gary Frost, David Turner, Vincent Wilson, John Draper and Reuben Butler, he said: “Counterfeit tobacco is more harmful because it contains cyanide.”

Wilson, 32, of Old Road, Clacton on Sea, and of previous good character, was jailed for two years.

Frost, 53, of Holyfield, Harlow, and with a record for fraud, was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Butler, 49, of Morland Avenue, Colnebrook, Slough, with a record for theft and obtaining services by deception, was jailed for three years and three months.

Eastabrook, 45, of Ashley Street, Ipswich, who was on licence for murder at the time of this offence, was jailed for six years.

Draper, 51, of Elm Farm, Chertsey, with a record for obtaining property by deception, was jailed for the maximum of seven years.

Turner, 51, address unknown, with a record for forgery and false accounting was jailed for the maximum of seven years.

A confiscation hearing is due to take place on December 17.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter