A PENSIONER accused of trying to evade duty on large amounts of cigarettes and tobacco has been cleared of two of the three charges he faced.
Retired fruit and veg salesman William Graham, 70, was caught bringing 2,000kg of tobacco into the North East in his van and more than 350,000 cigarettes were discovered at his lock up garage. But jurors yesterday cleared him of two counts of being knowingly concerned in an attempt at the fraudulent evasion of duty and failed to reach a verdict on a third such count. Judge James Goss discharged the jury and prosecutors have 10 days to decide whether to pursue a retrial on the outstanding charge.
Prosecutors claimed Graham was trying to evade duty of more than £300,000. But the pensioner told Newcastle Crown Court he never gave a thought to what he was picking up in the early hours of the morning in the south of England.
The pensioner, from Victoria Terrace, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, had denied three counts of being knowingly concerned in a fraudulent attempt at evasion of duty.