Jail for pair who pushed heroin in Lerwick

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A man has been sentenced at Lerwick Sheriff Court to over four years in prison after he admitted supplying heroin.

Barlinnie prisoner James Kennedy, 29, of Maybole in Ayrshire was sentenced to 50 months when he admitted pushing the Class A drug in the isles at an address in Lerwick’s Hill Grind on 15th May.

Co-accused Greg Lawrie, 25, also of Maybole was meanwhile handed a 30-month prison term by sheriff Philip Mann.

The two had been due to stand trial before jury, but admitted the charge on the indictment.

The men were arrested after police acted on intelligence and carried out a search of the address.

Lawrie was found to be concealing 70 grammes of heroin worth £7,000 at street level.

Subsequent police inquiries focused on mobile phones seized from the address where the duo were found.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the two have no connection with the isles.

“This was an intelligence-led police operation. Police officers executed a search warrant under the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act, having received intelligence about a householder,” he told the court.

“It soon became clear they were taking these drugs to Shetland for distribution in the isles.”

Defence agent for Lawrie, Tommy Allan, said the cocaine user became involved in the offence to “clear up” a debt he owed to various people.

He added Lawrie, a greenkeeper, had done “what was asked of him” and did not personally profit from the enterprise.

“He says he has never been a heroin user. He accepts the drugs were found on him, but says his role in this was a fairly minor one.”

Meanwhile defence solicitor Philip McWilliams said Kennedy’s experience “mirrored” to some extent those of Lawrie’s.

Kennedy, he said, had suffered difficulty with his heroin use.

He was already serving an eight month prison term after being sentenced at Ayr Sheriff Court in June on drugs charges.

Sheriff Mann told Kennedy his “extensive record” meant he was considering imposing the maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, he allowed him a discount of 10 months to reflect the plea.

He warned Lawrie his case could not be regarded as exceptional.

“I’ve said many times in this court anyone convicted of drug trafficking can expect a custodial sentence unless there are exceptional circumstances. There are no exceptional circumstances in this case and there is an inevitable disposal of a custodial sentence.”

The sentences are backdated to 19th May – the date when Kennedy and Lawrie were first taken into custody.

After the hearing Shetland area commander Eddie Graham said: “We all have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in society and as such we as a community will not tolerate those that seek to profit from the drugs trade.

“With the support of the public and with access to the wider resources through Police Scotland we will continue to disrupt and target criminals that traffic drugs to Shetland. Furthermore I would again remind the public that we rely on your support and information to disrupt the supply of drugs and arrest those responsible.”