A cross Channel smuggler, who made 70 trips in two years to bring tobacco and alcohol into the country, was jailed today for four months.

George Turnbull, 55, of Ousedale Close, Lewes, admitted three specimen counts of evading duty.

Lewes Crown Court was told police and customs officers searched his home and in July last year and found 3,420 cigarettes, 18.6 grammes of handrolled tobacco and 366 cigarillos.

He was also in possession of 84 litres of beer, 62.75 litres of wine and 6.4 litres of spirits.

Police and customs raided his house shortly after he returned from one of his trips.

The court heard he had made 70 trips to and from ports on the south coast during 1998 and 1999, bringing back the contraband.

Turnbull denied he was smuggling and said he was bringing back the items for friends who had asked him to do so.

Tony Loader, defending, said: "He was asked to get items for people who were not able to get them for themselves."

Turnbull had recently split up from his wife and made the trips because he liked the company on board the ferry.

Mr Loader said: "The trips helped cure the loneliness. He did what he was doing as something for the less fortunate in the community. Yes, of course, a lot of duty has been lost but Mr Turnbull was not doing this for profit. He did not make any profits and he was unaware of the crime."

Judge Simon Coltart said: "This sort of wholesale evasion of duty cannot go unpunished. The scale of it makes it inevitable a prison sentence has to be passed."

He was jailed for four months on each of the three counts to run concurrently.