A man who smuggled almost 80,000 cigarettes through five UK airports, including Bournemouth, has been brought to justice after he was tracked down by customs investigators.

Teodor Petkov Tsonchev, of Barking in London, pleaded guilty to evading nearly £17,000 of duty and VAT when he appeared at Bournemouth Magistrates Court and received a 20-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year. He must also undertake 160 hours of community service.

The 32-year-old was intercepted on five separate occasions smuggling cigarettes. On each occasion he travelled to Tenerife to visit family and smuggled the cigarettes on his return to the UK.

John Cooper, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said: “Tsonchev jumped bail on three occasions but our officers tracked him down to face justice and he now has a criminal record.

“Tobacco smuggling not only undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with illegal imports but also costs the UK economy around £2billion a year.”