Smuggler fails in jail appeal

Danish Amin

Danish Amin

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A TOBACCO smuggler who organised a shipment of 2m illicit African cigarettes into Lancashire has failed in an appeal to get his jail term cut.

Danish Amin, 26, of Catherine Street, Wesham, was one of the main UK organisers of the smuggling ring which was smashed when police seized the massive shipment, worth £323,000 in evaded duty, in December 2009.

Amin, who had been convicted of an almost identical offence in Germany less than a year earlier, was jailed for three years and two months on July 19 last year at Preston Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to tobacco smuggling.

The court heard the smugglers bought their cigarettes cheaply in Ghana, then flew them to a warehouse they had hired in Germany.

From there they were concealed in consignments of bins, and driven to Britain via Holland.

Plant equipment import and exporter Amin was “one of the main UK organisers” of this complicated arrangement to scam the taxman, and the gang had succeeded in slipping a shipment through customs a month before they were caught.

Michelle Whittaker, 30, also of Catherine Street, who was Amin’s girlfriend and described as his PA during her trial, had paid for European flights for gang members while living with Amin, so they could travel to Germany to carry out the scheme.

She had denied any involvement, although was found guilty of the same charge as her former-partner after a one week trial.

Whittaker was jailed for 14 months.

Lord Justice Leveson, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mr Justice Eder, sitting at the Criminal Appeal Court in London, heard his challenge to the length of that sentence.

Lawyers for Amin argued his sentence was too long when compared to that handed to the other main organiser on the UK end of the ring.

Darren Cooper, 43, of Inner Promenade, Fairhaven, was given a sentence of two years and nine months after admitting the same charge as well as six months for an unrelated charge which had previously been suspended.

But Mr Justice Eder dismissed Amin’s challenge saying: “The grounds of appeal are misconceived. He had a good work record.

“It is a pity he couldn’t stick to honest endeavour.”