25th September 2018
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Court round-up: woman who grew £30,000 of cannabis jailed for 16 months

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A woman who grew 100 cannabis plants worth an estimated £30,000 was jailed for 16 months when she appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Rachael Holmes, 30, of Brae, admitted producing the class B drug between March and June in front of Sheriff Philip Mann today.

Holmes was found with one other person at her home address when police executed a search warrant after receiving information. The search uncovered 79 seedling and 21 large cannabis plants.

Items such as lighting and heating units used in the cultivation of the drugs were also recovered.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said: “This was a fairly sophisticated cultivation, over a reasonably significant period of time.”

He said it had been “accepted” that other people were involved in the enterprise, but Holmes had played a significant part in it.

The court heard similar cultivations had shown cannabis plants to be worth £300 each, irrespective of size.

“The potential value here, on that basis, would be £30,000,” added Mr MacKenzie.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Holmes had become “fed up” paying extortionate prices for the drug, which she had turned to after trying to get off heroin.

She has also been on a prescription for methadone and Valium.

He insisted that she had stood to gain no financial remuneration from her venture, and only stood to gain a steady supply for her own personal use.

“From her point of view she says she was shocked when she became aware of the success of the efforts,” he said.

Citing the estimated £30,000 value, he added: “There is no way she would have benefited to that extent.”

He said that a lengthy prison sentence could lead to Holmes losing her home, which she is keen to keep hold of.

Mr Allan urged Sheriff Mann to consider calling for a drug treatment and testing order (DTTO), adding Holmes wanted to maintain contact with her son.

Sheriff Mann sentenced her to 16 months behind bars. Her sentence was backdated to 17th June when she was first taken into custody.

“This was clearly a very extensive operation. The court has to take a very serious view of the perniciousness of drug addiction in this area, which is no different from many other areas in Scotland.

“Drug misuse is something that creates a blot on many peoples’ lives, and the court has to take that into account when considering sentence.”

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A drink driver caught almost four times the limit narrowly avoided receiving a custodial sentence when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.

Instead Brendon Smith, 34, of Glenview in Dunrossness, was disqualified from driving for three years and told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.

He admitted driving in Scalloway with 137 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath on 28th August. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Smith was spotted at around 4.30pm by a member of the public who was concerned by his driving. He had intended to drive over 25 miles to his home in the South Mainlaind.

Defence agent Tommy Allan pointed to a background report which said the incident had been a “severe wake-up call” for Smith, who is seeking help over his drinking.

He said a community payback order would be “the appropriate thing to do” given Smith’s own circumstances.

Sheriff Philip Mann told Smith the offence was “horrendous”.

“This is nearly four times the legal limit. You must have been drunk to the point of being almost in danger of life, unless resilience of those in the Shetland Isles is better than it is in the mainland.

“Driving in public in that kind of condition is foolhardy in the least, and poses a significant threat to the public.

“A custodial sentence would be appropriate in this case, however I’m not convinced a custodial of sentence would necessarily achieve the result that needs to be achieved, and that is to educate you of the result of drink driving.”

He ordered Smith to comply with a community payback order, with a supervision requirement of 18 months.

Smith must also engage with the alcohol and drugs service, and follow any recommendations they make.

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A man who entered a woman’s home and performed a sex act in her bed before leaving in her clothes could be facing a prison sentence, Lerwick Sheriff Court has heard.

Peter Hall, 24, of Ladies Drive in the town, went into the Sandveien house uninvited and stole her clothing and photographs.

The woman and her partner were in a neighbour’s house at the time. They dialled 999 to call the police after seeing Hall through a window in their own bedroom.

When they went to investigate Hall had fled the scene. However he returned shortly afterwards and made a “bizarre” attempt to distance himself from the incident.

Inside kitchen cupboards and the fridge had been opened and the woman’s clothing was lying on the bedroom floor, while the bed had been disturbed.

Police also found a pair of jeans which did not belong to either the woman or her partner. It emerged Hall had left the house wearing one of the woman’s dresses.

Interviewed by police he denied doing anything wrong, and made “ridiculous claims” that the woman was regularly at his house naked.

At court today procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the incident had been particularly distressing for the victim.

“Mr Hall is of low intelligence, but from the point of view of the victim this was extremely alarming behaviour.

“From her perspective it suggests almost a long running campaign of him keeping her under surveillance.

“He is a young man who has no victim empathy and very little perception of what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Hall was seeking help from the mental health team.

He added Hall had, himself, found his actions disturbing and wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Sheriff Mann deferred sentence for reports, but told Hall to prepare himself for a prison term as a result of his actions.

“I have to indicate to you that there must be a fairly significant possibility that this could end up with a custodial sentence. You need to prepare yourself for that.”

Hall will appear in court again on 19th October.

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