Pair convicted for smuggling cigarettes

October 28, 2013

Two south Armagh men have been convicted of attempting to smuggle more than eight million cigarettes into the North.

James Francis McDonnell (41), from Ferryhill Road, Newry, and Arthur Michael Fearon from Jonesboro, were arrested in an industrial estate in Meigh in June 2010 when police and customs agents raided units at the site.

Police and customs officers had begun checking units when a white lorry crashed through the door, injuring two policemen.  The lorry was later found over the border at Carrickcarnon, County Louth, with nearly five million cigarettes still inside.

The court heard that neither defendant was one of the organisers of the smuggling operation but that McDonnell, a lorry driver, played an important role by transporting the contraband.

Fearon, who was a teenager at the time, had a significant role in moving the cigarettes from the container into smaller lorries.

The judge sentenced McDonnell to five and a half years, half of which is to be spent in custody and half on parole.

Commenting on 21-year-old Fearon, who did not show up for the verdict, the judge ruled that he should still be dealt with in his absence and imposed a sentence of two years detention, with one year to be served in custody and the other on licence.