Dad in ricin plot has appeal thrown out; CITY MAN LOSES LEGAL CHALLENGE.
Byline: ECHO REPORTER firstname.lastname@example.org
A DAD-OF-TWO, caged for plotting to buy enough ricin to kill 1,400 people, has failed to convince top judges his trial was unfair.
Mohammed Ammer Ali, 32, carried out extensive research on the "dark web", eventually arranging to buy 500 milligrams of the lethal substance.
But, unknown to him, his online vendor was, in fact, an FBI agent who tipped off UK police.
Detectives organised for a "controlled delivery" - with a fake consignment of ricin being sent to Ali's Liverpool home, hidden in a toy car, in February last year.
The next day, Ali was arrested and his home searched by officers clad in chemical protection suits, Lord Justice Treacy told London's Appeal Court.
Ali, of Prescot Road, Old Swan, Liverpool, was locked up for eight years at the Old Bailey last September, after he was convicted of attempting to possess chemical weapons.
But his case reached the Appeal Court yesterday as he challenged both his conviction and the length of his sentence.
His QC, Joel Bennathan, challenged the fairness of his trial, focusing on a "safety interview" conducted in a van outside Ali's home immediately after his arrest.
The interview was, exceptionally, carried out in the absence of a solicitor to represent Ali.
That was so officers could check that there were no other harmful substances or plots of which they were unaware.
But Mr Bennathan argued that evidence from this interview should have been excluded from Ali's trial.
In his defence, Ali insisted there was "no harmful purpose" behind what he claimed was just an experiment to see if he could get his hands on ricin.
Prosecutors accepted there was no specific target involved and that Ali had no known terrorist links.
But they pointed out that the amount of ricin on order had the capacity to kill up to 1,400 people.
Lord Justice Treacy, rejecting claims that the trial was unfair, refused permission to appeal against conviction. "We are wholly unpersuaded that the judge was wrong in concluding that the evidence could be admitted without causing unfairness," he ruled.
The judge went on to dismiss Ali's sentence challenge, holding that his punishment was "severe but justifiable".
Mohammed Ammer Ali, above; and, right, the toy car containing what he believed was ricin