An uncle of John Paul Wootton has been freed on a six month suspended jail term after admitting charges of cigarette VAT fraud.
Raymond Wootton (44) whose nephew is in prison for the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll, was acquitted earlier this year of possessing a 107-year-old .38 Smith and Weston revolver.
Belfast Crown Court heard that the cigarettes, tobacco and cigars, many of them counterfeit, were uncovered during a raid at the Alliance Avenue home of the north Belfast businessman.
David Russell, prosecuting, said during the course of the searches in 2011, a total of 84,0000 cigarettes were found, representing a loss to the Revenue and Customes of almost £38,000.
The court heard that while Wootton, who runs two shops and a taxi company, claimed that he was under a certain amount of duress to see the products and hand over the proceeds to paramilitaries, this was not accepted by the authorities.
Neil Fox, defending, said the father-of-two employed 50 people within his local area and accepts the case against him.
Mr Fox also said that prior to the prosecution, Wootton had already been in contact with the authorities to pay outstanding duty owed.
Suspending his jail term, Belfast Recorder, Judge David McFarland said that Wootton was a genuine businessman and had not been engaged in any fraud from the outset.
He added that he had also shown genuine remorse and deserved credit for his pleas of guilty.