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Father's jail term cut in laundering appeal

PUBLISHED: 16:24 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:52 12 August 2010

A FATHER-of-four caught driving a van with almost £150,000 in cash concealed in the back has won a six-month reduction in his two-and-a-half-year jail term for money laundering.

A FATHER-of-four caught driving a van with almost £150,000 in cash concealed in the back has won a six-month reduction in his two-and-a-half-year jail term for money laundering.

William Abbott, 43, of Parkside Avenue, Bromley, was caught driving the Astra van near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and arrested on March 18, last year.

He admitted concealing criminal property and possession of cannabis and cocaine and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Newcastle Crown Court in February, 2008.

Abbott said he had been asked to collect the money by his drug dealers, to whom he owed a debt, and was sentenced on the basis that he knew that the criminal cash was drugs money.

However, he disputed that and always claimed that he had no idea how much money he was carrying or where it had come from.

Last Wednesday, his lawyers appeared at the Court of Appeal in London, where they argued that the sentencing judge had been wrong to punish him on a basis on which he had not pleaded, without giving him the opportunity to argue in court.

Delivering the court's judgment, Judge John Diehl QC, who sat with Lord Justice Keene and Mr Justice Saunders, agreed and granted a six-month reduction in the term.

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