A Worksop man who claimed to be a delivery driver after being caught with illegal beer and spirits worth £26,299 in unpaid tax has avoided an immediate prison sentence.
Mahadeven Nageswaran was handed a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to two charges relating to tax fraud.
He was also ordered to carry out 106 hours' unpaid work and pay court costs of £1,200.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said Nageswaran, 43, of Shireoaks Row, had been found with a van full of wine and spirits during a routine inspection.
Officers approached the van parked outside a cash and carry in Wembley, London, and Nageswaran said he was making a delivery to the shop. When the vehicle was searched, officers found a stash of alcohol worth more than £6,000 in unpaid duty.
Nageswaran claimed he had collected the loaded van from a man at Alperton Tube Station in London that morning, but couldn't provide any invoices or paperwork.
The search also uncovered a receipt for a unit in Nageswaran's name at Shurgard Self Storage in Ruislip. Inside the unit officers found illegal bottles of whisky, vodka, wine and beer, worth nearly £20,000 in unpaid duty.
Nageswaran claimed he was delivering the goods for two associates and that he was renting the unit on their behalf, but was unable to provide details for either men except mobile numbers. One number had never been activated and the other was pay-as-you-go with no account details.
Nageswaran said he was reimbursed for renting the storage unit and it was only at that point he became aware of the fraud.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: "Nageswaran thought it was acceptable to steal from the public purse and he is now paying the price.
"He stole from honest taxpayers who play by the rules."
Nageswaran admitted to two counts of being knowingly concerned in the carrying, removing, depositing, harbouring, keeping or concealing of goods, subject to a restriction on importation with an intention to evade any such restriction, with respect to the goods or to defraud her Majesty of any duty payable on the goods.