Mongolian mother gets suspended sentence for smuggling cigarettes

A Mongolian mature student has escaped deportation and has received a two-year suspended sentence for smuggling €12,400 of cigarettes into Ireland.

Batchullun Pureevjal (aged 33) with an address at College Gate, Townsend Street, Dublin 2, pleaded guilty to possessing 39,000 cigarettes in her luggage, with intent to defraud the State, at Dublin Airport on December 27, 2006.

Pureevjal didn't explain to customs officers how she got the cigarettes or what she had intended to do with them.

Judge Desmond Hogan, in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, said although it was “a serious offence, it appears to be a one-off offence.”

He said it was a "fair inference" that the mother-of-two had intended to make financial gain from the cache.

Judge Hogan said as Pureevjal is the sole supporter of a child, has a low-level of re-offending and that she was “not part of any gang importing cigarettes” that the offence did not warrant a custodial sentence.

He suspended the two-year sentence and imposed strict restrictions.

Mr Tony McGillicuddy BL, defending, submitted that his client was in Ireland on a student visa, that she legally works 20 hours a week at a cleaning job to help support her new baby and has no other trappings of wealth.

He submitted that his client was doing it partly for friends and for her own gain.

Mr McGillicuddy added that his client also sends money home to an older child in her sister's care.

Mr Niall Jennings, a customs officer, said colleagues found the cache during a random search of the passenger's bags.

He agreed with Mr McGillicuddy that this search was not part of an operation targeting large-scale illegal importation.

Mr Dominic McGinn BL, prosecuting, told Judge Hogan he could impose a fine three times the price of the seized cigarettes under the Finance Act 2001, but that this could be halved in mitigating circumstances.

He said the halved amount would be around €18,000.

Mr McGinn told Judge Hogan he could also impose a five-year jail term instead of or along with this fine.

Mr McGillicuddy asked the judge to consider not deporting his client and to impose a suspended sentence in lieu of jail.

He submitted that his client had worked at bookkeeping for a number of years in Mongolia before deciding come to Ireland to “better” her employment chances by learning English.

He submitted that Pureevjal has no previous convictions, hadn't come to garda or customs officer attention since and had been home for her mother's funeral around the time of the offence.



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