A Corby man caught trying to flee to France with a bag stuffed with laundered cash has been told by judges he cannot complain about his jail term.
Dumitru Ursu laundered nearly £500,000 in cash altogether and was stopped trying to board a ferry at Dover with a bag containing £56,000.
The 45-year-old, of Holyrood Walk, was locked up for three-and-a-half years at Northampton Crown Court in January, after admitting one count of concealing criminal property.
He challenged his sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was ‘too long’ for his crime.
But his appeal bid was rejected by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said the term was ‘not excessive’.
The court heard a firm called Stena Drilling hired another firm called MTM Construction to build a warehouse in Aberdeen and, in December 2011, paid about £479,000 into what it believed was MTM’s bank account.
In fact, Stena had been duped into paying the money into an account registered to a Corby address, after someone phoned up the firm purporting to be from MTM and saying they had changed their bank details.
Because the money was paid two days before Christmas, the theft was not realised until January.
Over the next few weeks, Ursu made a series of withdrawals in different areas of the country, travelling across to Bedfordshire.
He then withdrew larger amounts in London, between 7 and 9 January 2012, taking a total of £154,000 from the bank account.
He was caught days later during a random spot check while in his car trying to board a Dover ferry.
A search of his vehicle revealed he had about £56,000 hidden in the lining of his bag.
Ursu, who is originally from Romania and used to live in the United States before moving to the UK nine years ago, told police he was being threatened by two men who forced him to allow the use of his account and to withdraw the cash.
But his claims were easily refuted by CCTV footage of the various points where he had made withdrawals, showing he had acted alone.
His lawyers argued his jail term was over the top, saying there was not enough evidence to assess his role in the crime and he had not used any false identity or made any attempt to conceal the fact he was using a long-standing bank account.
But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Supperstone said the crown court judge was entitled to reach ‘common sense conclusions’ about his culpability and his punishment was ‘not excessive’ in the circumstances.
Sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Lindblom, he added: “This was a very serious offence involving a substantial amount of money.”