Leeds judge issues 'exceptional' sentence for asylum seeker caught selling cannabis from Harehills property

An asylum seeker caught selling cannabis in Leeds has been handed an “exceptional” sentence after waiting more than four years for the case against him to conclude.

By Georgina Morris
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 6:43 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st May 2022, 6:45 pm

The court heard how 23-year-old Armeen Ahmedi had been put under pressure or was influenced into selling the Class B drug, with his arrest in April 2018 meaning his asylum application had been placed on hold.

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Prosecutor Deborah Smithies said police attended a residential property in Conway Avenue, Harehills, in early April 2018 and found a man waiting outside to buy tobacco.

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Armeen Ahmedi was arrested when police went to an address in Conway Avenue, Harehills. Picture: Google

When officers rang the doorbell, Ahmedi answered and a strong smell of cannabis was coming from inside.

A second man, who was dealt with separately by the courts, was sitting on a sofa with a bag containing 32 small packets of cannabis beside him.

Searches of the property and both men led to the discovery of cash, weighing scales and cannabis, some of which was hidden beneath the kitchen sink.

The other man also had nine strips of paper with an instruction to ‘sell weed’ at another address in Bexley Terrace, Harehills.

The property had no furniture upstairs and nobody appeared to be living there.

Both men were arrested and offered no comment when questioned. Ahmedi later pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

During assessment for a psychological report, he said a friend took him to the house and offered him money to help sell ‘medication’.

He separately told a probation officer that he initially went there believing that he would be moving garden rubbish in return for payment.

The court heard Ahmedi had come to the UK from Iran in 2017. He had been sent as a smuggler across the Iran-Iraq border from the age of 10 but escaped the clutches of the smugglers during a police raid at 17 and was then smuggled to the UK.

Shila Whitehead, mitigating, said Ahmedi had not committed any further offences in the four years since his arrest.

She added that the processing of his asylum application could not resume until the court proceedings concluded.

The judge, Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC, said: “The circumstances are not entirely clear but I’m satisfied from everything I’ve heard that you were under pressure and influence, if not from your co-defendant then from others in the background.

“As an asylum seeker, you had no home, no money and no work. You were desperate and committed this offence in desperation.”

He said that a community order would be impractical as Ahmedi’s “language and intellectual problems are such that it would make direct intervention very difficult”, adding: “I’m prepared to take an exceptional course and issue a conditional discharge for a period of 12 months.”

He warned Ahmedi, of Temple View Place, Burmantofts, that if he was to commit any further offence in that time, then he could be re-sentenced for the drug dealing offence.

An order was also issued for the forfeiture of the drugs and cash found.