‘Man of mystery’ had illegal cigarettes

A 29-year-old Chinese man who was detected with 18,600 Chinese cigarettes in his business premises, with no duty paid on them, was sentenced to three months in prison.

Castlebar District Court heard that on May 20 2009, gardaí and a member of Revenue entered the Phone Station, Thomas Street, Castlebar— a repair and unlocking phone service. Chang Wu Yu, with a listed address at the Phone Station, Thomas Street, was the proprietor.

Gardaí had a warrant to search for stolen property, nothing was found in relation to this, however 15,000 cigarettes were found in a suitcase in a room above the premises, while 3,000 more cigarettes were found under a counter in the business premises. Three main brands of cigarettes were discovered during the search, which were then seized.

Detective Garda Declan Sweeney said that he was made aware that cigarettes were being illegally sold on the premises. In a statement made to Garda Sweeney, the defendant said that he never sold cigarettes and that the cigarettes belong to his partner and his friends. When interviewed by Revenue Officer, Sean Fitzgerald, without the use of the interpreter, Yu told him that he sold the cigarettes for €7 for 20. This was denied in court.

Yu, who has been in Ireland for seven years, had a student visa and lives with his partner and three children.

The defendant, through the services of a translator, told the court that the cigarettes came from China, however they were not for sale, but were gifts for guests who were to attend a wedding to his partner, which was to take place in December, but which did not occur.

It transpired that even though the defendant claimed he has little English that he has registered for a business course in Dublin which is taught through English.

Judge Mary Devins said that the “credibility of the accused is almost zero” and the judge said that Yu is “a man of mystery”.

Judge Devins convicted and fined him €1,000 and sentenced him to three months in prison. The judge also directed the forfeiture of cigarettes to the State. Recognisance was fixed.

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