Fariq Aqbal Omar has had two years added to his jail time on appeal.
Fariq Aqbal Omar has had two years added to his jail time on appeal.

Drug smuggling flight attendant cops longer sentence

A CLUMSY flight attendant who was busted smuggling $5 million of heroin into Melbourne has copped extra jail time on appeal.

In exchange for acting as a drug courier hapless hostie Fariq Aqbal Omar was paid just $500.

Today he had his three-year minimum jail term increased to five years after an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions who argued his original sentence was manifestly inadequate.

If he walks on parole, it means Omar would have earned just $100 for every year spent behind bars or 27 cents a day.

If he serves his new maximum, which was increased to eight years from five and a half, that will drop to just 17 cents.

Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell, and justice Terry Forrest and Mark Weinberg, said Omar's small pay packet should not have been a significant factor in his sentencing.

"There was some debate in argument about the significance of the fact that (Omar) was paid so little for acting as courier," they said.

"It was submitted on his behalf that the force of the adverse inference - that he became involved for reasons of personal greed - must necessarily be moderated, given how little he stood to gain.

Aqbal Omar was paid just $500 to smuggle $5 million worth of heroin into Melbourne.
Aqbal Omar was paid just $500 to smuggle $5 million worth of heroin into Melbourne.

"His culpability should be viewed as lower, it was said, than someone who was paid a higher sum, such as $10,000 or $20,000. We are not persuaded by that argument.

"There will, of course, be cases where an offender will be able to point to genuine extenuating circumstances which could explain a desperate need for money.

"In a case like the present, however, where no such circumstances are apparent, it is neither necessary nor possible for the sentencing court to seek to understand why a person would take such enormous risks for such a small amount of money. "The admitted fact is that (Omar) agreed to perform this role in return for financial reward."

The court said if someone in Omar's position judged the small reward he was to receive justified taking the obvious risks, "then it would suggest that the 'risk-reward calculus' is still not a sufficient deterrent".

Omar almost got away with his drug run, clearing customs and exiting outside Melbourne airport before he was nabbed by border force officers.

But the 34-year-old had sparked suspicion immediately after disembarking from his Malaysian Airlines flight in May last year with bulges showing through the pants and vest of his uniform.

Security watched as he went to a public bathroom then emerged without the bulges in his clothes.

He left the airport and boarded a Malaysian Airlines bus before the entire flight crew were stopped by border force officers and asked to open their suitcases.

Omar emptied his pockets and surrendered 10 blocks of heroin, telling officials he it was probably drugs but he wasn't sure.

He said he was carrying the packages for a friend who told him they contained tobacco.

The drugs had a street value of up to $5 million.

Omar, who pleaded guilty to a single count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, faced a maxim penalty of life imprisonment.

shannon.deery@news.com.au



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