Lowestoft landlord admits smuggling counts

A LOWESTOFT pub landlord has admitted evading duty on more than one million black market cigarettes and nearly 400 kilos of tobacco.

Robert Payne, 60, was caught when his white Fiat Ducato was stopped by police on February 21, on the A12 at Woodbridge. Inside the van, officers discovered 60,000 contraband Russian cigarettes.

Payne – who lives at and owns the Tudor Rose pub in St Peter's Street – was also found to have �46,000 stuffed in an Avon bag when his property was searched.

Appearing before Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to six charges relating to evasion of duty and money laundering.

The first charge alleged that he was knowingly concerned in the evasion of duty on the 60,000 king-size filter cigarettes found on February 21.

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Payne also admitted concealing or disguising criminal property by possessing �46,630 in cash, hidden in an Avon bag, and that he had entered into an arrangement 'with persons unknown' to acquire or keep it on someone else's behalf.

The third charge related to the fraudulent evasion of duty after 2,760 cigarettes were discovered at the Tudor Rose.

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A similar charge concerned 3.1kilos of hand-rolling tobacco found at the pub.

The fifth charge alleged that between January 21 this year and February 20, Payne knowingly failed to pay the levy on 1,177,200 cigarettes.

The final count referred to the same period, but this time the duty evaded related to 382.35 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.

After pleading guilty to the offences, Payne was released on bail to allow a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the probation service. He is due to be sentenced sometime after October 17.

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