Co Armagh trucker escapes jail over £3.6m alcohol scam

An Armagh man has walked free while his two London-based accomplices were jailed, after all three were convicted over an alcohol smuggling operation which evaded £3.6 million in duty.

HM Revenue and Customs said that siblings Tayfun Donger, 32 and Taylan Donger, 29, both of Edmonton in London, masterminded the scam but were caught red-handed unloading smuggled beer at a warehouse in Epping, Essex on November 10, 2016.

Armagh man Conor McCreesh, 26, pleaded guilty to driving a truck from Belgium to Essex as part of an alcohol smuggling scam.

Armagh man Conor McCreesh, 26, pleaded guilty to driving a truck from Belgium to Essex as part of an alcohol smuggling scam.

Customs officers arrested the men as they removed the alcohol from an HGV that had been brought into the UK from Belgium by Conor McCreesh, 26, from Northern Ireland.

The Dongers denied evading excise duty and VAT, but were found guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court on October 24.

Mr McCreesh, of Dobbin Hill Road, Armagh, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and possession of a false international consignment note.

He was sentenced to 15 months of jail, suspended for two years, ordered to do 270 hours unpaid work, pay costs of £1,000 and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Tayfun Donger was given a six-and-a-half year sentence and Taylan six years on November 1.

The officers seized more than £4,000 in cash, the equivalent of 119,000 pints of beer, 6,000 bottles of wine and 830 bottles of spirits, along with the HGV, a forklift, pump trucks, and two vans.

During a seven month period, they had distributed smuggled alcohol worth £3.6m in unpaid duty and VAT into the UK.

Just days before the start of the trial, Taylan Donger attempted to flee to Turkey, but was arrested by customs officers on September 20 at Stansted Airport and remanded in custody.