Airport tobacco smuggler from Southsea avoids prison

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A WOMAN who smuggled 59,400 cigarettes and 23.25 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK has been spared jail.

Unemployed Lavinia Akyurt, 42, of Southsea, was arrested in September 2016 at Gatwick Airport.

A probe by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found between January 2015 and September 2016 she smuggled tobacco on four occasions.

She smuggled cigarettes and tobacco via London Stansted, Durham Tees Valley and Gatwick airports.

Christopher Gill, assistant director of fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: ‘Lavinia Akyurt thought it was acceptable to undercut hardworking local shopkeepers by smuggling tobacco.’

In total, 59,400 cigarettes and 23.25 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco were smuggled into the UK and seized.

On June 7 Akyurt pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.

She received a 15-month jail term suspended for two years at Lewes Crown Court.