Chinese man caught three times by customs with untaxed cigarettes


A Chinese national who was caught three times by customs officials with untaxed cigarettes has received a suspended sentence.

Chang Jun Zhao (33) claimed he didn't know why his phone number was listed on a Chinese website advertising cigarettes, when caught the third time.

Officer Michael Griffin of Revenue told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he had tracked cigarette parcels delivered to Zhao on two previous occasions.

Fiona Sheehan BL, defending, submitted that her client hadn't been aware of the penalties or seriousness of his crime. Judge Martin Nolan put it to her that Zhao seemed “incorrigible”.

Zhao, of Fitzgibbon Lane, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to evading tax duty on cigarettes at Fitzgibbon Street on May 9 and October 10, 2013 and evading duty on cigarettes with intent to defraud the State on June 12, 2013. He has no previous convictions.

Ms Sheehan told the judge that the total loss to the State in duty had been €6,000.

Officer Griffin told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, that he got tipped off about a cigarette package delivery and set up surveillance outside Fitz Deli, Fitzgibbon Street on May 5, 2013.

Once the packages had been delivered, he and colleagues searched the premises and discovered 7,620 Chinese branded cigarettes. Zhao said these cigarettes were for his friends “for no money.”

On June 12, Officer Griffin said he tracked another cigarette delivery to Zhao's address and found 7,920 cigarettes with no Irish tax stamp.

Zhao gave customs officials his phone number, which was later discovered on a website advertising Chinese cigarettes.

On October 22, Zhao was caught with 300 cigarettes under his arm on Fitzgibbon Street.

Officer Griffin agreed with Ms Sheehan that the volume of cigarettes in this case was at the lower end of the scale.

Ms Rowland told the judge there was a maximum fine of €126, 970 or a jail term of five years for this type of offence.

Judge Nolan acknowledged Zhao's guilty plea and previous good record, but said the aggravating factors in the case was that “he didn't stop.”

He imposed a two year sentence, suspended for two years. The judge commented that he would have imposed a jail term if the cost to the revenue has been higher.