No jail for Armagh man in illegal cigarette haul

An Armagh who was caught with 20,000 cigarettes and 240 packets of loose tobacco in Cork without payment of excise duty was given a one-year jail sentence suspended yesterday.

Francis McGale, aged 47, of Crossmore Green, Keady, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to the crime on Monday and was remanded in custody for sentencing yesterday.

When he appeared again at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Brendan Kelly, defending, said the accused had brought €3,000 to court as a charitable donation.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin directed the payment of the €3,000 to Marymount Hospice.

The judge explained he had remanded the accused in custody on Monday because of what he described as a totally unrealistic attitude to the case.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said he would direct payment of the €3,000 to the hospice and he then backdated a one-year sentence to Monday with the remainder suspended from yesterday.

Because the defendant had used his car for the commission of a crime by transporting the unstamped tobacco in the boot his car the judge said he would disqualify him from driving in the State for the next 12 months.

On the application of prosecution barrister, Imelda Kelly, the judge also made an order for the destruction of the cigarettes and tobacco that were seized in the investigation.

McGale admitted that he had 20,000 cigarettes and 240 packets of loose tobacco otherwise than in packets with an official stamp affixed at Sallybrook, Glanmire, Co Cork, on September 26, 2015.

Det Garda Niall Hayes said customs and excise officers became aware of a vehicle travelling to Cork, possibly with a large quantity of cigarettes.

In a search of the car 20,000 unstamped cigarettes and 250 packets of tobacco were located in the boot.

The value of the tobacco products totalled €16,850. The potential loss of revenue to the state was over €13,000.


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