Conspiracy to supply Class A
drugs draws hefty sentences

News report by Helen Gavaghan, 11th February 2020. Crown Court, Bradford.

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Four conspirators supplying Class A drugs, namely cocaine, were sentenced today at Crown Court in Bradford to imprisonments ranging from 17 to 9 years. Large amounts of high-grade cocaine were involved. All but one of the men had previously been of good character. Mr Yasser Shah (31), who had a comparatively minor previous conviction, was given 17 years, the heaviest term handed down. Mr Shah's advocate, Mr "Baz" Bhatia QC, drew the Court's attention to the incongruity of Mr Shah moving from being a very minor criminal to seemingly heading something this size. The judge said of all the conspirators, "There is no excuse for involvement in this trade of death and destruction, corrosive of our society."

A jury yesterday unanimously found one man among the defendants who went on trial last week to be not guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine. They reached their conclusion very quickly. See: "Tip of organised crime conspiracy supplying cocaine". Located at: The street value of the conspiracy described today was much larger than that involving the defendant found not guilty this week, and would seem itself to be part of something even bigger. In this instance drugs were being ferried from the Midlands to the north, and there was contact among Telford, Coventry, Halifax, Bradford, Newcastle and Sheffield. Where the drugs came from or how they got into the country was not explored in Court, nor was it clear whether that information exists. Detectives were in the public gallery, including an officer seconded from Greater Manchester Police to the North West Regional Crime unit.

The others sentenced were Martin Lewis (54), who had pleaded guilty early in trial preparation. He was given 9 years. Hassam Rasool (26) was handed 11 years, and Mohammed Bilal Ashraf (30) was given five years to be served consecutively to a sentence he is already serving for 8 years. The 8-year sentence was given in the Midlands before the full extent of the offending became apparent and relates to what is now known to be conspiracy. Rasool, Shah and Ashraf pleaded guilty before the jury last week. This was the same jury which went on to find their co-defendant not guilty.

The sentencing and trial judge was his honour Judge Durham Hall QC. I tweeted elements of the morning hearing over lunch time (GMT) on 11th February 2020. The public interest news tweets were all before the sentences were handed down. Non of the tweets have been deleted. The judge said he requested (but could not enforce the request) that reference not be made to the sophisticated phone technology used. On the grounds of public interest I have not deleted the tweet in which I make mention of that technology in general terms. I made the news tweet before the judge commented from the bench. The technology refered to is widespread in drug conspiracies, according to comments made to the Court by the lawyers.

Published 19.23 GMT on 11th February 2020 by GavaghanCommunications for inclusion in Science, People & Politics issn 1751-598x (online), owned by Science, People and Politics Ltd Co. no 05901911, registered office address 165 Longfellow Court, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, HX7 5LG.


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