He was a role model for youngsters, graduating in law and spending years counselling schoolchildren about the dangers of drugs.
No one could have predicted the sinister direction Mahfooz Ahmed’s career was to take.
Today he is beginning a 12-year jail sentence after being exposed as one of Britain’s biggest heroin dealers.
Ahmed, 35, had been a respected drugs counsellor who visited schools as part of a Government-funded scheme. He would talk about the risks of drug use and support addicts in his home town of Halifax, West Yorkshire.
But when he suffered financial difficulties, he turned his hand to drug dealing and soon became a key player in a huge European-wide drugs ring, Leeds Crown Court heard.
When British customs officers found £1.36million worth of heroin in a suitcase he was carrying, he fled and spent the next five-and-a-half years living in Wembley, Perth and Glasgow. He did, however, travel to Amsterdam at least three times to make deals.
A European Arrest Warrant was later issued for his arrest over a major conspiracy to smuggle £11million worth of heroin from Turkey to the UK, via the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Police recovered 144kg (23 stone) of heroin from two shipments and, in November 2009, a court in Brussels sentenced him in his absence to five years in jail for his involvement.
Ahmed, who is married, was finally caught in October last year when he was arrested in a supermarket car park in north London by officers who had been tracking his movements.
After graduating in accountancy and law in 2000 from De Montefort University, he worked for 14 months as a project co-ordinator on behalf of the Department of Health and the University of Central Lancashire, researching drug use in parts of Halifax among minority groups.
At the time, he was quoted in a report saying: ‘I hope I can contribute to the fight against drug misuse. I will be writing a report with recommendations on how the problem can be tackled.’
Ahmed then went on to work for the voluntary-sector organisation Lifeline Calderdale until April 2003, providing one-to-one support for drug addicts.
Sentencing Ahmed for possessing heroin with intent to supply, Recorder
Jonathan Bennett said it was ‘appalling’ that he had been willing to become involved in the drugs trade after seeing its effects first hand.
‘You went into schools, motivating young people, telling them about drugs and the effect they were going to have on their community,’ he said.
Louise Wilson, defending, said Ahmed knew he had been ‘immensely stupid’ and had brought shame on his family.
Daily Mail 3rd August 2011