A London pensioner, who fled to Thailand almost five years ago to escape punishment for selling illegal tobacco and Viagra-type pills, is back behind bars after he was tracked down by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Brian Frederick Hipwood, 72, of Hanger Vale Lane, North Ealing, London, was arrested by HMRC officers at Gatwick airport on 8 July 2019, before he boarded a flight to Belfast.
Hipwood was jailed in March 2013 for 15 months for excise fraud and selling unlicensed male enhancement supplements.
Soon after his release from prison, in June 2014, he was arrested for identical offences but fled to Thailand before a court hearing.
A warrant was issued for his arrest and a confiscation order for £600,000 was granted in his absence. He returned to the UK and was arrested as he tried to get back to Thailand via Belfast.
Hipwood was jailed for five years on 16 July 2019 for failure to pay the confiscation order and today, Friday 13 December, he was given a 22-month sentence for selling the illegal tobacco and tablets.
Hipwood was arrested for repeat offending in June 2014 after HMRC officers discovered more than 153,000 cigarettes, 181 kilos of hand rolling-tobacco and almost 8,000 doses of illegal Viagra-type products, at a storage unit in London. Duty had not been paid on the tobacco products.
Before a hearing at Ealing Magistrates’ Court in November 2014, he fled the country. A warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest.
In his absence, Hipwood was ordered to repay £600,000 made from the crimes he was jailed for in 2013, within three months, or face another five years in prison, and still owe the money, at Isleworth Crown Court on 3 June 2016.
He was tracked down by HMRC and arrested at Gatwick airport in July 2019. His travel documents showed he was travelling back to Thailand, via Belfast.
On 16 July 2019, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Hipwood was sentenced to five years in prison for failing to pay the confiscation order. His debt of £585,403.28, plus interest totalling £134,766.39, remains and increases by £128.31 a day until paid.
At Isleworth Crown Court today, Friday 13 December, he was sentenced to 22 months for cheating the public revenue, selling illegal medicines and absconding. The sentence will run concurrent to the five year prison sentence he is serving for non-payment of the confiscation order.