A MOTORIST whose car was stopped because he was driving 'too fast' on the M6 in south Cumbria had a carrier bag stuffed with £22,000 in cash. 

Police officers searched the VW car after stopping it near to Crooklands in south Cumbria because they noticed a strong smell of cannabis when they spoke to the driver Afthab Nawaz Khan, 29, Carlisle’s Rickergate court heard.

Gail Heard, for Cumbria Police, said: "On April 20, Mr Khan was stopped by officers in his VW car because he was driving too fast for the conditions but as soon as they spoke to him they noticed a strong smell of cannabis."

Khan, a part-time taxi driver, had a small amount of the drug hidden in one of his socks, Miss Heard told magistrates.

As the officers then searched the car, which was on the southbound carriageway, they found three mobile phones, another small amount of cannabis, and – hidden under one of the seats – a carrier bag containing the cash.

“He told the officers that he had sold a BMW car and that he had just collected the funds from that,” said Miss Heard.

“But he was unable to answer any further questions about that. He was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.”

Cumbria Police subsequently decided to take no further action against Khan but they applied to the court for the permanent forfeiture of the seized cash under Proceeds of Crime Law on the basis that they believe the cash was either the proceeds of criminality or intended for use in crime. 

The court heard that the cash in the carrier bag was predominantly Scottish bank notes. An investigation of Khan’s bank accounts showed he was not a man of means and was in fact in debt to the tune of £10,000.

One of his relatives was also currently under investigation for alleged drugs supply offences, said Miss Heard.

When interviewed formally, Khan had given no comment replies to questions and he had refused to provide police with the releavant PIN numbers to give them access to his mobile phones, the court heard.

Magistrates heard that Khan, from Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes, had chosen not to challenge the police application and had signed a document disclaiming ownership of the seized cash – but not the £850 that was found in his wallet.

Miss Heard said he had previously been cautioned for possessing the Class B drug while in a car which was in “the vicinity” of a cannabis farm. Confirming the details included in the police application, a Cumbria Police financial investigator told magistrates: “I have no doubt that this is recoverable property.

“It was probably from the delivery of cannabis to somewhere in Scotland.” The court heard also that when Khan failed to arrive home as expected, one of his relatives called the police to say they feared he had been kidnapped.

Magistrates approved the forfeiture of the £22,180 that was found in the carrier bag. They also ruled that the £850 found in Khan’s wallet, which was not made of up only Scottish bank notes, should be returned to him.

Khan was not in court for the hearing.