Illegal cigarettes seized by the Hong Kong customs department. Photo: Handout
Illegal cigarettes seized by the Hong Kong customs department. Photo: Handout

A 72-year-old man from the Philippines was given a suspended sentence in the Eastern Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to having a large haul of illegal cigarettes.

Hong Kong customs officers seized 29,160 untaxed cigarettes when the man’s home was raided in the city’s Quarry Bay district. The 72-year-old was found in possession of Marlboro, Hope, Fortune and Capri cigarettes smuggled from the Philippines and destined for the city’s black market.

The man, who held a Hong Kong Identity Card, faced two counts of violating the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance and pleaded guilty in the Eastern Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

He was given a two-month prison sentence, suspended for one year as he had a clean record. This means if the defendant behaves in the next 12 months he will be spared a jail term.

“Keep away from trouble for the next 12 months or else you go inside,” the court’s presiding judge told the Filipino.

His prosecutor noted that the sealed boxes of cigarettes found in his home did not bear the required health warning labels and had not been taxed. Customs officers found two rucksacks, a bag and a suitcase containing the cigarettes.

The defense counsel, however, asked for leniency as the man and his wife were both retired and were barely scratching a living.

Under the city’s laws, incoming passengers at least 18 years old are allowed to have only 19 cigarettes for their own use without paying taxes.

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