PICTURES: How a Southsea couple turned their home into a illegal tobacco factory

Picture: HMRC
Picture: HMRC
Bethany Kelly, left, and Dani Hackett behind the bar at Beerex in 2016' Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160551-3)

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A MARRIED couple from Southsea have been found guilty of packaging illegal tobacco in a cot in their front room.

Wu Xiao Xiong, 40, has been jailed for nine months, and his wife Chen Yu Lan, 41, was sentenced to nine months in jail suspended for two years.

Wu Xiao Xiong. Picture: HMRC

Wu Xiao Xiong. Picture: HMRC

On Friday at Portsmouth Crown Court the pair were sentenced for evading about £17,000 excise duty.

They were charged after HM Revenue and Customs officers found 71kg of non-duty paid hand-rolling tobacco at their Talbot Road home in June 2016.

Investigators found fake ‘Amber Leaf’ and ‘Golden Virginia’ tobacco pouches waiting to be filled, along with false tax stamp labels, packaging, scales and heat sealing devices.

Richard Wilkinson, assistant director of Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: ‘These criminals were undoubtedly working for a larger network aiming to undercut legitimate tobacco retailers. HMRC continues to target the supply of illegal tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year and takes money away from public services.

Picture: HMRC

Picture: HMRC

‘We encourage anyone with information regarding the smuggling, packaging, storage or sale of illegal tobacco to contact our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.’

As well as her suspended sentence Chen was also ordered to do 90 hours of unpaid work.

Picture: HMRC

Picture: HMRC