A beautician and her fiancé escaped jail after being caught smuggling £ 60,000 of cigarettes into Britain.
Donna Jablonski, 38, and her future husband David Sutton, 30, were arrested by border forces investigators at Manchester Airport after returning from a four-day ‘city break’ in Moscow, Russia .
But the couple, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, attempted to pack 5,000 packs of 20 cigarettes into their luggage that they intended to sell to local stores.
The average pack of 20 cigarettes costs £ 12.73 – cheaper packs can cost £ 9.10 – meaning they were smuggled goods worth around £ 63,650.
The amount of tax they tried to evade through their smuggling operation would have cost the taxpayer around £ 40,000 if the cigarettes had been sold.
At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, the mother-of-one, Jablonski, was given a ten-month suspended prison sentence for 18 months and ordered to perform 80 hours of unpaid labor.
Sutton, who had previously been convicted of drug trafficking, was given a 16-month suspended prison sentence for two years and ordered to perform 120 hours of unpaid labor.
Both have admitted to being involved in the fraudulent evasion of customs duties on goods imported under the 1979 Customs and Excise Management Act.
Donna Jablonski, 38, and her future husband David Sutton, 30 (pictured together) were arrested by border force investigators as they attempted to squeeze 5,000 packs of 20 cigarettes into their luggage.
The bust occurred on November 28, 2019 when the couple arrived in Manchester on a flight from Moscow via Helsinki in Finland.
Prosecutor Miss Martine Snowdon said: ‘They were arrested by border force officers at Manchester Airport. They asked Sutton what he knew about the cigarette allowance and he replied, “I thought you could bring as many as you want”.
“A total of 55,800 cigarettes were found in Sutton’s possession. He said “I just brought them back for a guy in a store.” The border force said it was the second time he had done this. The value of the duty evaded was £ 20,800.
“Jablonski was found with 53,200 cigarettes in her possession, which equates to the value of £ 20,411 of duties evaded. Asked by the agents, she replied “the bag is full, we sell them to a lot of foreign stores”.
“The officers could see messages coming to the accused’s phone saying ‘WTF man’, ‘what did you tell them? »” Delete all your messages “. The two defendants did not respond to any comments when questioned.
The couple, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, were being questioned at Manchester airport when it emerged that they had traveled to Moscow in Russia for a four-day ‘city break’.
Both admitted to being involved in the fraudulent evasion of customs duties on goods imported under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979
In March 2016, Sutton was jailed for 12 months for importing a class B drug.
Jablonski had no previous criminal convictions.
In mitigation, defense attorney David Farley said: “They went to Russia for a four-day break. Sutton has cerebral palsy and has literacy issues. This happened in November. 2019, but the court was not heard until January 19, 2021. It’s a pretty straightforward case.
He added: “Mr. Sutton can do light work. Mr. Sutton knows that if he is caught he will go to jail.”
Sentencing judge Maurice Greene told the couple: “You pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion at the first opportunity and therefore you are both entitled to full credit.
The bust happened on November 28, 2019 when the couple (pictured) arrived in Manchester on a flight from Moscow via Helsinki in Finland
“You were both caught red-handed at Manchester Airport each with over 50,000 cigarettes and the duty evaded was just over £ 20,000 each, £ 40,000 between you two.
“Clearly, this was a joint effort. You both knew what you were doing. You got cigarettes from overseas and planned to sell them here.
‘This is a very serious matter. Jablonski, you have no previous convictions. However, you are endangering your responsibility and the care of your young daughter.
“If you were to go into custody, your daughter would not be in your possession during this period. You both had a leading role.
“This offense took place in November 2019, but it did not appear in court until January 2021. I know there is a problem with the ongoing pandemic, but it is a significant delay.
“I have to take into account that you were taken, so no real rights were lost to the income. All of these factors lead me to say that it is not necessary to impose an immediate custodial sentence. I will suspend this custodial sentence.
The HM Revenue & Customs excise duty on cigarette packs is 16.5 percent of the retail price plus £ 244.78 per 1,000 cigarettes.
For cigars it is £ 305.32 per kg and tobacco is £ 271.40 per kg.
In 2017, the most expensive country to buy cigarettes in Europe was the United Kingdom.