British prisoner who fled to Spain handed more time behind bars

A British prisoner who escaped jail and was arrested in Spain earlier this year has been given an extra two years behind bars, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Daniel Dobbs was detained in February after police discovered a subterranean counterfeit cigarette factory in the Malaga province of southern Spain – 13 feet under a stable.

The 31-year-old, who is nicknamed “Dobbo” and from Malton in North Yorkshire, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in prison in January 2014, after he was convicted of trafficking heroin and amphetamines.

He vanished from his cell at HMP Hatfield Lakes, a category D open prison in South Yorkshire, in November 2018.

The NCA tracked him down to Spain earlier this year, where he was living under a false name and he was arrested as the Spanish Civil Guard smashed an organised crime group.

The underground plant, which had a full production line and could produce 3,500 cigarettes an hour, was said to be the first of its kind found in the European Union.

A subterranean counterfeit cigarette factory in the Malaga province of Spain
A subterranean counterfeit cigarette factory in the Malaga province of Spain (National Crime Agency/PA)

Europol said the facility, which had been operating since 2019, included bunkbeds and living quarters for workers, who were forced to toil in dangerous and toxic conditions and not allowed to leave on their own.

Dobbs was brought back to the UK in March and on Tuesday he was handed further jail time at Lewes Crown Court, the NCA said.

He was sentenced to 24 months in prison for escape from lawful custody, and 12 months for improper use of an identity document and the sentences will run concurrently, the agency said.

The extra two years will run consecutively with the remainder of his drug trafficking sentence, the NCA added.

Alison Abbott, of the NCA’s offender lifetime management unit, said: “It is apparent that Dobbs is a harmful and persistent offender who thought he could escape the UK and avoid detection.

“But together with international partners, we tracked him down, and now he’s back behind bars where he belongs.

“The NCA pursues fugitives relentlessly. No matter where they are, nor how long it takes, we will catch up with those who flee UK justice.”

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