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Portadown haulier denies vodka smuggling

A Portadown businessman accused of smuggling vodka disguised as fruit juice made his teenage daughter chief executive of a haulage company, a court in England has heard.

Kieran Hughes turned to booze smuggling after one of his companies went broke, the judge heard.

Hughes Chilled And Frozen Distribution in Portadown went bust in February 2010.

Prosecutor Kevin Dent said Hughes set up a new firm, Hughes Ireland, with daughter Emma, then 19, as chief executive.

“Even though she was named as chief executive you always remained the boss,” Mr Dent told Maidstone Crown Court, where Hughes is standing trial on 16 counts of smuggling booze into the UK and forgery.

Mr Dent said Hughes hadn’t said anything about not being in charge of the firm when questioned by Customs officers after a raid on his Cohara Road base.

Hughes claims the £2m scam was going on behind his back but Mr Dent said after two drivers were caught smuggling they were given jobs within the company.

Referring to co-defendant William Canning from Limavady, he said he operated as Hughes’ fixer on the Continent. Mr Dent said: “Was he working for the unofficial side of your business?”

Hughes replied: “We don’t have an unofficial side.”

Mr Canning told the court on September 6, 2010 he was caught at Dover with a load of vodka masquerading as fruit juice.

He claimed he didn’t know about the fraud and didn’t know the six other drivers involved.

Canning said: “I was shocked and angry. I did discuss it with Mr Hughes.”

The case continues.

 

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