An Israeli yeshivah teacher has been jailed for 18 months, nine of them suspended, for trying to smuggle £19,000 (90,000 shekels) worth of cocaine into the United Kingdom, according to a report in the Jewish Chronicle.
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Jacob Amar, 58, of Jerusalem, was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport on September 29 carrying 123 grams of the class A drug. He arrived on a flight from Colombia, where he was assisting with Orthodox conversions.
Amar admitted to possession of the cocaine, saying that it was for his own personal use.
Defense lawyer Jeffrey Israel told the court his client was “highly regarded and respected within his community”. He explained that Amar, who was addicted to cocaine, had bought the drugs on impulse in Colombia – at a far lower price than he would expect to pay in Israel.
Amar was passing through London when he was arrested. He was on his way to Uman in Ukraine to participate in the mass pilgrimage by Bratslav Hassidim to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman over Rosh Hashanah
Passing sentence, the judge said he accepted Amar did not intend to sell the drugs. “I am presented with a contradiction as you are clearly a man of considerable talent and integrity, yet you knowingly secreted a significant quantity of cocaine and attempted to enter into the U.K.," he said.
“The court is prepared very unusually to accept your mitigation that the cocaine was intended for your own personal use, rather than you acting as a courier for drugs that would end up on the streets."
“In the circumstances, I am prepared to impose an unusually short sentence from a starting point of four-and-a-half years, given your personal circumstances and a discount for your early guilty plea, I sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment of which you will serve half.”