A FLIGHT attendant has been jailed for five years after he tried to smuggle £600,000 worth of heroin into the UK through Leeds Bradford airport.
Syed Shah, 31, had 2kg of the drug hidden in his cabin bag and flight case when officers searched them shortly after he got off a Pakistan International Airlines flight.
Leeds Crown Court heard Shah had been part of the cabin crew during a flight from Islamabad to the Yorkshire airport on November 20 last year.
Officers searched his baggage and discovered four transparent sealed packages containing heroin.
Shah then told officers he had another package containing heroin concealed in the waistband of his trousers.
Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said the heroin had a purity of 65 per cent and had a wholesale value of around £56,000.
The prosecutor said the amount could be worth as much as £646,000 when sold on the streets.
Shah was interviwed after his arrest and admitted to taking the drug on board the aircraft but refused to answer any further questions.
He pleaded guilty to importation of a class A drug.
Yunus Valli, mitigating, said Shah committed the offence after getting into financial difficulties at home in Pakistan.
He said his client had worked for the airline for six years but had recently gone through an acrimonious divorce.
Mr Valli said the father-of-two had been unable to see his young children and had taken time off work during 2012 due to mental health issues as a result.
During a nine-month period off work he wasn’t earning any money and began to accumulate debts. By the time he returned to work he had debts totalling around £4,000 and was being put under pressure to repay the money.
Mr Valli said: “In order to discharge his debt in full he was told to take the packages of drugs to the UK and pass them to someone who would get them from him.
“He made that decision and failed to take into account the consequences of his actions.
“He has lost his employment and liberty. He comes from a respectable family in Pakistan. He has blackened his family name and ended up in a foreign country and has been imprisoned.”
Mr Valli said Shah had no other convictions and was of previous good character. He added: “He is genuinely and sincerely remorseful for what has happened and wishes he could turn the clock back. He bitterly regrets what he has got himself involved in.”
The court heard Shah had reached ‘enhanced’ prisoner status due to his good behavior in Armley jail, where he has been given the job of librarian.
Jailing Shah, judge James Spencer, QC, said: “I am quite certain that you knew full well about the scale of what you were doing and the criminality of being a custodian or carrier.
“It seems to me that looking at the circumstance as a whole you quite clearly fall into the category of having played a significant role.