A FORMER Thame landlord has been jailed for 15 months after using his pub as a base for an extensive smuggling operation.
David Wing, of Ormond Road, was imprisoned for using the Two Brewers pub in North Street as a base for the sale of unlicensed cigarettes and alcohol.
The 69 year old, who has not been at the pub for more than a year, was arrested on two occasions in January 2010 and April of the same year.
On both occasions tobacco, alcohol and cash were found and seized from the pub, his home and his Jaguar car.
It is estimated Wing cost the country £22,844 through lost revenue.
A notebook containing orders for cigarettes and tobacco was also discovered.
Adrian Farley from HM Revenue and Customs said: “Wing’s criminal activities had a devastating impact on the local community, causing real harm to legitimate retailers in the area.
“He used his pub as a gateway for smuggling to line his pockets with cash at the expense of the taxpayer, depriving the nation of vital funds.”
In court last week, Honour Judge King said to Wing: “You were responsible for the storing and sale of illicit cigarettes, and I cannot overlook the persistence and blatant attack on the revenue.”
On January 27 of last year tax officers seized 40 kilos of hand rolling tobacco and 40,000 cigarettes from his home address and 940 cigarettes and 1.3 kilos of rolling tobacco. Notebooks showing trading patterns from the Two Brewers were also found. A total of 2,000 cigarettes were found in his car.
Two months later in April, Wing was raided again and 25 kilos of rolling tobacco was found at the pub with a further four kilos of tobacco and 3,800 cigarettes hidden in specially adapted beer barrels.
In addition, 36 kilos of hand rolling tobacco were found in his car while 5.5 kilos of hand rolling tobacco and 35 litres of spirits were in his garage.
Wing’s charge, to which he pleaded guilty, and subsequent sentence is the latest blow for regulars of the town centre watering hole as it currently stands boarded up after it was sold last week by owners Greene King.
A spokesman for the brewery chain said: “We can confirm that the Two Brewers in Thame was sold last week.
“We are unable to comment on the future of the site.
“We are also unable to comment on any previous licensees of the Two Brewers.”
Greene King refused to reveal who had purchased the pub amidst fears it is to be developed into offices.