An Israeli strictly Orthodox yeshivah teacher has been jailed for 18 months for trying to smuggle £19,000 worth of cocaine into the UK.
Jacob Amar, 58, of Jerusalem, was arrested at Heathrow on September 29 carrying 123 grams of the class A drug.
He had arrived on a flight from Colombia, where he had been assisting with Orthodox conversions.
Amar admitted possessing the cocaine, saying it was for his own personal use.
Defence lawyer Jeffrey Israel told the court his client was “highly regarded and respected within his community”.
Able to speak six languages, Amar travelled extensively to help with Orthodox conversions around the world.
Mr Israel said Amar had developed a cocaine habit, and had bought the drugs in Colombia on impulse at a price far cheaper than he would expect to pay in Israel.
When he arrived in London he was en route to Uman in Ukraine to attend the Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman’s tomb that is attended by approximately 50,000 Chasidic Jews.
Passing sentence at Isleworth Crown Court today, Judge Robin Johnson said he accepted Amar did not intend to sell the drugs.
The judge said: “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 UK.
“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.”