Passports official in Triad threats case is jailed

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The Independent Online
TRIADS terrorised a passport office official into illegally issuing hundreds of British passports to people not entitled to them, a court was told yesterday.

David Lynch, 24, of Brixton, south-west London, told police he had a gun held to his head by three Chinese men as he left his flat. They said that they knew where he worked and made 'menacing threats'.

After issuing one passport, Lynch was approached for more. Police believe he may have issued up to 400 passports. In return he said he received between pounds 7,000 and pounds 10,000 in cash. He was also given cars, televisions, videos and had a flat rented for him.

Lynch, an examiner at the Passport Office in Petty France, central London, on a pounds 12,000 a year salary, was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court, south London, after admitting conspiracy to obtain passports by deception. Judge Gerald Butler said Lynch had 'abused' his position of trust. 'I accept you were subjected to threats of violence and pressure from others, but I also bear in mind you chose not to take the obvious and proper course of at once telling your employers of what had taken place.'

The court was told that after the first threat Lynch was contacted by brothers Patrick Shu Chai Man, of Sunbury, west London, and Stephen Kwong On Man, of Hanwell, west London, demanding more passports. Brendan Finucane, for the prosecution, said that Lynch was told it would be 'worth his while', but 'menacing' statements, rather than specific threats, were also made.

Lynch said the Mans would call him, sometimes from Hong Kong, telling him to go to a car in a car park in Hampton Hill, south-west London, where he would find the passport applications in the boot. Police found 48 completed applications when they arrested him. They also found an imitation weapon which Lynch claimed he carried for self-defence.

Stephen, 36, and Patrick Man, 43, both restaurateurs, were each sentenced to six months' jail after admitting obtaining a passport by deception, but were immediately freed, having spent the time on remand. Both denied charges of conspiracy, a plea accepted by the prosecution after Lynch decided not to give evidence against them. Mr Finucane said Lynch was approached by a Chinese prisoner in jail and warned to say nothing.

Mr Finucane said Lynch was ordered by the Mans to examine immigration office files to see why a passport had been returned. Lynch said the file he read contained details of a sports car driven by one of the Man brothers. 'The file said the car had been used for drug trafficking and other known Triad offences,' Mr Finucane said.

'The Crown cannot say anything about that, but that is what Lynch thought he was dealing with,' he said. Detective Constable Colin Smith, of Scotland Yard's International and Organised Crime Branch, said police believed it was a Triad operation.

The court was told that an investigation was launched after two Chinese illegal immigrants were found to have full passports authorised by Lynch. On checking, it was found he had issued a large number of the documents to people of Hong Kong origin.