NINE people have appeared in court to face charges of dealing in illegal cigarettes.
The group – including one man from Sunderland – have been charged with conspiring to fraudulently evade duty on tobacco and cigarettes and conspiring to conceal stolen property.
In a prosecution brought by HM Revenue and Customs, the offences are alleged to have taken place between January 2010 and October last year.
The nine – Glenn Paul Crisp, 40, of Pear Tree Mews in Ashbrooke, Sunderland; Kris Michael Linney, 28, of Albert Road in Jarrow; Justin Sheriff, 40, of Bisley Drive; Leonard Clouston, 40, of Moreland Road; Lee Ellison, 39, of Copley Avenue; Kirsten Jane Linney, 22, of High Meadow; Michael Keith Linney, 46, of Mill Dam; Victoria Louise Linney, 42, of the same address; Paul Anthony Lowry, 38, of Malborough Street North, all South Shields - appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
They were not asked to enter a plea to the charges, which can only be dealt with at crown court.
The defendants were granted unconditional bail until October 15, when a hearing will take place at Newcastle Crown Court.