Four men, including an ex-councillor, have been returned for trial on charges allegedly linked to a vast tobacco smuggling enterprise dating back over six years.

Appearing for a committal hearing yesterday (Wednesday) was Anthony McPhillips (61) from Ashvale Avenue, Rosslea, a one-time councillor on Fermanagh District Council.

Joining him were Peter Martin (65) Ballynaclosha Road and Peter Hughes (65) from Legmoylin Road both in Newry along with Stephen John McKenna (55) of Rinnalea Gardens, Belfast.

Hughes. McKenna and McPhillips are accused of fraudulently evading Customs Duty Charge Goods and VAT relating to 1848 kilograms of tobacco.

Martin and McKenna are further accused of the dame charges relating to two million cigarettes.

These offences are alleged to have occurred in 2017.

Martin, McKenna and McPhillips are jointly accused of conspiring to cheat the public revenue of monies due by way of duty chargeable on the importation of tobacco products from 2014 to 2017.

All four spoke only to confirm their identities and the charges against them and declined to call witnesses or give evidence on their own behalf at this stage.

A prosecuting lawyer told Enniskillen Magistrates Court there is a case to answer which was agreed by District Judge Alana McSorley.

She remanded all four on bail to appear for arraignment before Dungannon Crown Court on January 31.