Man sentenced for travelling to Europe on fake documents during lockdown to buy cannabis

A man who travelled to Europe on fake documents during lockdown to buy cannabis has been sentenced.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Ronald Moon, 55, of Kirkby, bought around £25,000 of the Class B drug from a cannabis farm in Italy in January 2021. At the time the UK was in the third national Coronavirus lockdown and all non-essential travel abroad was banned.

However, Moon obtained fake documents allowing him to travel. He had also contacted various people to access funds for the purchase and to source a market for the cannabis when he got back.

By 18 January, the defendant had bought 5kg of the drug from a cannabis farm in Italy and received a notification that it would be delivered in the UK on 27 January.

On 21 January, Moon left Italy and was in France. Little did he know that the order had already been seized by a Border Force officer in the UK, as it was thought suspect.

Scientific analysis confirmed that the consignment of five black vacuumed bags, weighing almost five kilograms, was the Class B drug.

On 25 January 2021, the police obtained a search warrant for Moon’s home address in Kirkby. Officers found him there and he was arrested and cautioned.

He was asked if there were any Controlled Drugs or large sums of money on the premises and he said no. However, officers discovered a unit to produce cannabis in an outhouse at the property and it was clear the electricity meter had been “bridged” and he was abstracting energy illegally.

They found more than £10,000 in cash in the house too. Moon claimed this was savings from a child’s birthday and a tax rebate.

Enquiries with HM Revenue and Customs proved this to be false.

Moon was charged with Fraudulent Evasion of a Customs and Excise Prohibition and Possessing Criminal property.

He initially pleaded Not Guilty to the charges and claimed he’d obtained a “mild” version of the drug that he intended to sell on a medicinal basis.

However, on the first day of his trial on 22 August, he changed his plea to guilty. On 25 August  2022 at Liverpool Crown Court, he was given an 18-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months. He must also do 110 days of rehabilitation activity and 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Mikayla Kitchen of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said, “At a time when restrictions were at their highest, Ronald Moon travelled abroad using false Covid certificates to source cannabis. He later claimed to have no knowledge that the goods were illegal as they contained low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) But low-level THC is a prohibited Class B drug.

“The Crown Prosecution Service’s case was that Moon was all too aware of the illegality of the goods or else he would have brought them back into the UK himself. The second limb to our case is that ignorance of the law does not amount  to a defence and this was properly reflected in his guilty plea on the day of trial.”

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