Times are hard in the pet transport business, it seems (god knows why though – it costs far more to fly a cat from abroad than a human – several times the amount).
Scott Parker’s attempt to get a little extra income on the side resulting in him getting 7½ years at Isleworth Crown Court on 19th June 2015.
Mr Parker, a dual British/South African national, ran a business flying cats back and forth from South Africa. He decided to supplement the money he got from this by bringing in some heroin amongst the precious feline cargo.
A cat who flies in will be sent to a special unit in Heathrow that deals with all the animal imports – Heathrow Animal Reception Centre. It seems that the good folks there noticed that some of Mr Parker’s caged cats weighed far more than would be expected, even allowing for the luxury diet of the international jet-setting cat.
On closer inspection it transpired that there were nine kilos of heroin hidden in the cages. Investigations were undertaken to ensure that Mr Parker knew about this. It is a bit vague as to what these checks were, but presumably the authorities were satisfied enough to arrest and charge him.
All cats were released without charge.
Mr Parker was sentenced to 7½ years. As always, we don’t have the sentencing remarks, so it’s not possible to give a full comment, but here we go …
There are Sentencing Guidelines for importation (starting at page 3). 9kg is a lot – he would be Category 1 Harm. It’s harder to know what level of culpability he would be; either Leading or Significant depending on whether there were other people involved.
From the sentence actually imposed, we assume that he was assessed as Significant, meaning that he was probably being paid to do this by someone higher up the chain, who would have organised the onward distribution.
We know he pleaded guilty, but don’t know at what stage. Our best guess (from a look at the maths) is that he didn’t admit knowledge of this straight away, but did at the Plea and Case Management Hearing. The Judge then took the starting point of 10 years and discounted the sentence by 25% to reflect the plea of guilty.