A former police officer found guilty of tobacco smuggling has been handed down an eight-week suspended jail sentence.

Kenneth Pritchard was found guilty of evading £17,500 in excise duty, after smuggling 85kg of hand-rolling tobacco into Portsmouth Ferry Port.

He had attempted to hide the tobacco in suitcases, boxes and a wicker laundry basket whilst crossing the border in his car.

John Cooper, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation said: “Pritchard, a former crime-fighter, now has a criminal record of his own. This type of criminality not only undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with illegal imports, but also costs the UK economy around £2bn a year.”

Investigators believe the tobacco was destined for the Macclesfield area of Cheshire.

The 84.9kgs of Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia tobacco has been destroyed to fuel the National Grid, along with 400 cigarettes also seized. Pritchard’s Land Rover Discovery has also been seized by HMRC and will be sold at auction.

His jail sentence has been suspended for 12 months.