By Brion Hoban
A Lithuanian national who smuggled over 400,000 cigarettes into the country has been jailed for three years.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Renaldas Gruska (40) runs an import/export business with his wife and was paid €700 to bring the cigarettes into the country hidden inside a furnace.
Gruska, of Kernaves, Alytus, Lithuania, pleaded guilty to evasion of a duty of excise on 422,860 cigarettes at New Customs House, Dublin Port, on November 5, 2020.
Revnue Officer Paddy Gibney told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, Revenue were in receipt of information regarding a trailer with a certain registration number coming into Dublin Port.
Officer Gibney said this trailer, which was attached to a truck driven by the accused man, was first x-rayed and then searched by customs officials. Inside the trailer a furnace was discovered inside of which 422,860 Minsk Capital cigarettes were hidden.
When questioned, Gruska said he ran an import/export business with his wife and brought goods into Ireland every six to eight weeks. He said he had been given €700 to collect the trailer and transport it to Northern Ireland.
Gruska admitted he was present when the trailer was loaded with the cigarettes. The total amount of tax loss to the state, when both excise duty and VAT are factored in, was €231,727.
Luigi Rea BL, defending, said his client “succumbed to the temptation of easy money” and got caught up in something “much bigger than he”. He said his client has one teenage son and asked the court that he be allowed to go home as soon as possible.
Judge Martin Nolan said that “obviously greater profits can be made by sellers” if they do not have to pay tax. He said that “every civilised society runs on tax” and that services cannot be funded with it.
Judge Nolan sentenced Gruska to three years imprisonment.