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Comptroller General of Customs v El Hawli [2022] VCC 1687

The offender was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of smuggling goods contrary to s 233(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1901 and 1 count of making a false statement to an officer contrary to s 234(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1901.

Nature and Circumstances: In total, offender was in possession of 129 kilograms of mollases tobacco and 1,200 cigarette sticks. Offender knew that the luggage contained the tobacco products. Defendant imported them with the intention of avoiding the duty that would have been payable on then. The total customs duty payable in relation to the imported tobacco was $119,109.43.

Character: Offender is a person of good character and enjoys a good reputation in the community. A number of references attested to offender’s good character. There is evidence of offender’s commitment to the community by way of the volunteer work they do for youth. Offender has been an excellent role model for and leader to the young members of their mosque.

Delay: There has been significant delay in charges being brought. Offender was interviewed at the airport on 27 August 2018, the day they smuggled the goods and made the false statement. It was not until 17 February 2021 that the plaintiff filed the Statement of Claim. Offender is not responsible for this period of delay. Once proceedings were instituted there was delay caused on offender’s part with a number of applications being made for the extension of time within which to comply with procedural requirements. For some time, the worry of the proceedings has been hanging over offender’s head. In that period, there has been no further offending.

Offender sentenced to pay a penalty in the amount of $5,000.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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