A Nigerian man was caught in the act of trying to smuggle more than 83,000 cigarettes into Newcastle International Airport.
The man identified as Samuel Onyemenam, 50, was stopped while carrying luggage as he entered the country on a flight from Nigeria via Germany last November.
Border Force officers x-rayed three of the suitcases and found that two of them were filled with 83,600 cigarettes, which would have carried duty worth £28,000.
Onyemenam, of Abbey Wood, London, was arrested and pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading duty when he appeared in the dock this week.
Onyemenam arrived at Newcastle International Airport on a flight from Nigeria via Germany on November 26 last year, Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard.
‘He had three suitcases with him,’ Rob Lawson, prosecuting said. ‘Border Force officers informed him that they were going to X-ray his suitcases and two were found to contain a large quantity of cigarettes, 83,600. The duty evaded was £28,530.17.’
Onyemenam claimed that he had been transporting the cigarettes for his cousin and had made no financial gain from the scheme.
Paul Kennedy, defending, said Onyemenam, who has no past convictions, stood by his claim that he was transporting for his cousin and made no financial gain.
Mr. Kennedy continued: ‘It was an opportunistic, one-off offence.’
However, the claims were not accepted by District Judge Jayne Bryan, who told Onyemenam: ‘I don’t accept what you’re saying at face value.’
The judge continued: ‘You’re going to have to give evidence about what you’re claiming. It’s what we call a trial of issue and it will decide on what basis you will be sentenced on.
‘You will have unconditional bail to return to this court on that date and time. If you don’t attend, a warrant could be issued for your arrest.’
Onyemenam is due back in court on May 3.