A mother of one collapsed in tears yesterday as she was jailed at Limerick Circuit Court for two years on charges of selling large quantities of illegal cigarettes at a city centre market.
Carol Collopy, aged 51, of Danesfort, Corbally, Limerick, admitted possession of nearly 37,000 cigarettes worth €16,634, which resulted in the loss of €10,656 to the exchequer.
The offences occurred in May 2009, Oct 2009, and July 2010.
As sentence was passed she collapsed, crying out: “Don’t do this to me. Please, please she [daughter] needs me. Please I beg you. She really needs me. I am very sorry, she has nobody to look after her. I beg of you, I will never come before you again, I promise.”
Judge Carroll Moran rose briefly as Collopy was helped to the cells and when the court resumed, he acceded to an application by Michael Collins, defending, that the commencement of Collopy’s sentence be deferred to 5pm tomorrow to enable her attend to family matters.
The judge said he had thought about the matter for the past week when the case was adjourned and he had to do his duty as offences involving the avoidance of tax excise duty from tobacco was more commonplace. It was a threat to the State’s collection of revenue and was unfair on competitors who complied with paying excise duty.
An officer with the Revenue and Customs & Excise told the court that on the first occasion Collopy was found selling “roll your own tobacco” near Limerick’s Milk Market.
The defendant sold an undercover officer 200 Mayfair cigarettes. A further 4,000 unstamped cigarettes were found in her car.
Two officers monitoring her residence, on another occasion, observed a man leaving with two large bags.
In total, 36,400 cigarettes were seized that day, valued at €15,056. The excise duty at risk was €9,380.
On Oct 2009, an undercover officer again purchased 200 Gold Classic cigarettes from her stall for €50, and in a follow-up search a few days later 1.28kg of unstamped Turner tobacco was found in the stall and seized. The value on that occasion amount to €1,422, with €1,178 in excise lost. In July 2010, an undercover officer again bought 200 John Player Blue cigarettes with a counterfeit stamp.
Mr Collins said his client was a single parent and has divorced from her former husband, “whose name is still attached to her”.
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