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Appeal judges increase ‘lenient’ jail sentences given to passport conspirators

Two men involved in the supply of falsified passports to fugitive criminals were given unduly lenient jail sentences, appeal judges have concluded.

Anthony Beard, 61, of Sydenham, south east London, was given a jail term of six years and eight months by Judge Nicholas Ainley at a hearing at Reading Crown Court in May.

He was jailed after admitting conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent.

Christopher Zietek, 67, who had homes in Sydenham, Ireland and Spain, was given an eight-year jail term.

Jurors had found him guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to make a false instrument with intent and converting criminal property.

Three appeal judges on Friday increased Beard’s term to 10 years and two months and Zietek’s term to 12 years after Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson argued that the sentences were unduly lenient.

Lord Justice William Davis, Mrs Justice Cutts and Mrs Justice Eady, who considered the men’s cases at a Court of Appeal hearing in London, said they would give reasons for ruling in favour of Mr Tomlinson at a later date.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) had said, in May, that investigators believed Beard was responsible for at least 108 fraudulently obtained genuine passports being issued.

Passports enabled serious criminals to go on the run from the UK and start a new life abroad, the NCA had said.

Craig Turner, NCA deputy director of investigations, had said: “This was the golden ticket for the organised crime networks in order that they could evade arrest, evade identification by local law enforcement either internationally or at home in the UK.”