Drugs accused found not guilty

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A man accused of conspiring to import £500,000 of drugs into Britain has been found not guilty.

The jury in the case of Mohammed Aslam, 50, has returned its verdict this afternoon.

Mr Aslam told Leeds Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday) that the conspiracy to fly in heroin concealed in carpets from Pakistan was concocted by his friend and a Pakistani business associate.

He said friend Sokol Berisha and Sardar Khan imported the drugs while they were were both living at his house in Clarkson Street, Ravensthorpe.

And he said he had absolutely no idea the men were involved in the crime, adding: “If I had thought for one moment they were involved under my roof then they would have been in serious trouble.”

Aslam said he met Mr Berisha in 2007 after he did some building work for him.

He said they became good friends over the next six months and Mr Berisha stayed with him for weeks at a time while he was having relationship problems.

Prosecutor Jeremy Hill-Baker had said Sokol Berisha did not exist and was a fake identity created by Aslam to carry out the conspiracy, between March and June last year.

Mr Hill-Baker asked: “Is there a photograph you can show us of you and your friend Sokol Berisha over all these years? He didn’t exist, did he?”

But Aslam said he did – and was ‘100 per cent’ sure he was involved in the crime.

The court heard two carpets were imported through Manchester airport before a third, containing 18.85kg of heroin woven into the carpet in tubes, was intercepted by border officials. It was traced by Serious Organised Crime Agency officers to a container in Lock Street, Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, rented by Razwan Hussain.

Hussain, 28, had already pleaded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy. But Aslam told the court he did not know that Hussain, a family friend, was involved until the trial started last week. He told jurors he was shocked about his friend’s admission.

The court heard an email address used to contact the company transporting the carpets was set up in Mr Berisha’s name and registered to Aslam’s son’s boxing club in Cleckheaton.

It was set up using Aslam’s mobile phone – but he said he left it lying around at home for anyone to use.