Shelter seeker caught with cocaine claims ‘it’s not illegal in Iran’

A failed caught with cocaine claimed he didn’t think he’d committed a crime as ‘small amounts’ aren’t illegal in his home country of Iran – forcing the judge to Google his alibi.

Michael Olyaie originally indicated he would deny a charge of possessing the Class A drug during an eventful hearing at Teesside Magistrate’s Court.

Solicitor James Watson said his client’s defence was that small amounts of cocaine are not illegal in Iran.

He said this meant that Olyaie had no idea he was committing an offence when he was searched by police on March 12.

But the explanation didn’t hold water with District Judge Kristina Harrison, who said: “Does he seriously expect me to believe that cocaine isn’t illegal in his country? Well, we’ll have a look then.”

Before the case was stood down, the court clerk searched the internet and found an article which alleged 250 people had been executed in the country after being found with the drug.

Judge Harrison then put out a warrant for the arrest of Olyaie, who could not be found in court for the opening of the case.

Later, Mr Watson returned to court with his client, who pleaded guilty to the offence, Gazette Livereported.

He asked for the case to be adjourned as there was not a Farsi interpreter available.

But Judge Harrison asked how long he had been in the country – a year and four months – and decided he could understand enough English for the proceedings to go ahead.

Mr Watson said that 25-year-old Olyaie was a failed asylum seeker who survived on £35 a week.

“He could still afford cocaine, Mr Watson,” said Judge Harrison.

Olyaie, of Hampton Road, Stockton, was fined £80 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £40 costs, at a rate of £5 per week.


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