Chinese ‘snakehead’ gangster loses court challenge

The justice system

The justice system

A Chinese “snakehead” gangster involved in smuggling £560,000 worth of herbal cannabis into Northern Ireland has lost a challenge to his five-year jail term.

Hui Lin’s lawyers claimed there was too great a disparity between his sentence and those handed down to associates who also used an upmarket Belfast apartment as a hub to distribute drugs across the UK.

But the Court of Appeal held that Lin’s more significant role and further links to cocaine dealing warranted longer imprisonment.

Lord Justice Gillen said: “We are satisfied the applicant should have no grievance about the total nature of the sentence imposed on him.”

Lin, a 42-year-old illegal immigrant, was part of a so-called snakehead gang from South East Asia who used a city centre apartment complex for their illegal trafficking.

Police seized the herbal cannabis as well as smaller quantities of other drugs, money and equipment in October 2014.

Cash and further consignments were also made at other locations in Northern Ireland.

Drugs were posted in packages from Spain and then re-distributed across the UK.

Lin was jailed in July last year after admitting charges including possessing cocaine and cannabis with intent to supply, importing a Class B drug, and money laundering offences.

Two other men who pleaded guilty to cannabis offences received lesser sentences of three and a half years and three years.

Counsel for Lin argued that the disparity between their prison terms and his five-year sentence was unreasonably high.

However, Lord Justice Gillen dismissed the appeal after declaring the trial judge’s reasoning as “unimpeachable”.

He said: “The co-accused were self-evidently less involved.

“The two others were involved in cannabis, as of course was this applicant, as part of the snakehead activity.

“However, this applicant was involved in addition with a Class A drug.”

Condign punishment was required for Lin’s cocaine activities, he stressed.

“The learned trial judge was entitled to impose a higher sentence on this applicant.”