A Co Mayo lorry driver who attempted to smuggle 2.7m cigarettes into the UK by hiding them in a load of bananas has been jailed for two years.

30-year-old John Vahey of Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, tried to avoid paying more than £400,000 in excise duty when he tried to bring the cigarettes through Poole Ferryport from Cherbourg, France, on 1 December 2007.

The 530 boxes of bananas were donated to the ape rescue charity, Monkey World in Dorset, after they were seized by customs’ investigators.

Vahey was sentenced at Southampton Crown Court for being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty after pleading guilty to the offence on 28 January 2009.