GRAN LARCENY

HeadLine: GRAN LARCENY

The People, 30/04/2000, p33
by SHAUN MILNE

HARD-NOSED Customs officers thought they’d seen every wrinkle in the
bootlegging book…
But they were astounded when they swooped on a booze-and-baccy
smuggling queen and discovered she was the ultimate wrinkle – a
78-year-old GRANNY.
Grey-haired Doris Aris appeared to be the respected chairwoman of her
local residents’ association who handed out advice at a council-run
community centre.
But Doris’s main advice to her pensioner pals was: Buy your cut-price
booze and fags off me.
Now the bespectacled widow who raked in thousands of pounds a month
could be heading for a spell in one of Her Majesty’s “community
centres” for her part in £113,000 tax evasion.
And Chancellor Gordon Brown, who warned only weeks ago in his Budget
that the net on smugglers is to be tightened, will be surprised to
learn it includes a hairnet.
One of the undercover Customs team who swooped on Doris’s office at the
community centre in Sneinton, Nottingham, after a tip-off told the
Sunday People: “We’ve done some strange busts in our time but we didn’t
expect anything like this.
“There was this doddery old woman amid boxes and boxes of stuff,
flogging it to all her old cronies like it was home baking.”
The officers seized dozens of boxes of rolling baccy and cigarettes and
a meticulous record Doris kept of profits going back two years.
They also found a list of underworld contacts who supplied her.
The officer added: “She must have made a packet. It was run like a
professional business but was completely illegal.
“I don’t think she would have been worrying about how much she was
getting from her pension every week.”
The city’s assistant housing director Tyrone Brown, who regularly met
Doris, said: “I’m stunned. She was a typical nice old lady. We had no
inkling this was going on.”
Doris pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to evading £28,000 duty.
Her main supplier, Malcolm Howarth, admitted evading £85,000. The
charges normally carry a jail term and the judge, who will sentence the
pair in two weeks, warned them: “You are in an extremely serious
position.”
Customs officer David Faulkner, who was closely involved in the case,
told the Sunday People: “Maybe old folk thought they were getting a
bargain by buying cheap cigarettes from Doris Aris.
“But some of her friends could be disadvantaged by her actions.
“The duty she evaded could have been better used for social services
like health care and education.
“If another 78-year-old woman at the centre is moaning because she
can’t get a hip replacement, then it puts a different slant on what
greedy Doris was doing.”

**

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Categories: Sunday People articles

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