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Teesside counterfeit cigarette smuggler jailed
A COUNTERFEIT cigarette courier was jailed after being caught with hundreds of thousands of fake fags for the second time.
Carl Allen had 28 large boxes in the back of his Ford Transit van when it was stopped on the A174 in Middlesbrough in April.
The 39-year-old was locked up for nine months in May 2011 when he was caught with a "substantial" haul alongside the A19.
Yesterday, he received eight months behind bars after being told by a judge that it would be "ludicrous" to spare him prison.
Yvonne Taylor, mitigating, had urged the judge to suspend the jail term because he is the main carer for his 95-year-old grandmother.
She said he has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder since an incident at work when he was 21 and did not think straight.
Miss Taylor told Judge Les Spittle: "He has not been able to work since and it has been a downward spiral for him.
"It has led to financial difficulties, others were aware of that, and through poor thinking, when he was asked if he would carry out this job and receive some financial reward for it, he saw that as a way of paying off his debt.
"He just hasn't been able to think things through at all, and, perhaps, this second offence has been the wake-up call for him."
Judge Spittle said: "You had that wake-up call last time, and you had a nine-month sentence to complete the waking process and contemplate what the consequences are.
"You built up these debts by gambling. I am very sympathetic to people who get into financial straits because of circumstances beyond their control, but yours is not.
"Spending money you didn't have to try to get more . . . it's a fool's practise, and it got you into this situation.
"You entered into this venture to make money it of it. It would be ludicrous, when someone embarks on a course of action they know will result on a prison sentence, if they are let off."
The court heard that Allen, of Eversham Road, Middlesbrough, had 385,000 counterfeit cigarettes when he was stopped.
He pleaded guilty to evading duty of almost £90,000.
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