A SHERIFF sent a strong signal to heroin dealers in Shetland this week that their activities will not be tolerated when he sent two men to prison, one for three years and the other for 20 months.
Adam Turpin, 22, of Bruce Crescent, Lerwick, admitted supplying heroin between 13th September and 13th November last year at addresses in the town’s Commercial Road and North Road. A plea of not guilty to a further charge of supplying cannabis at North Road was accepted.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that police had searched the home Turpin shared with his girlfriend when Turpin was present and had found a money tin containing £3,480. A drugs dog was used and found a quantity of heroin in the bathroom. Two sets of scales, a grinder and two letters relating to drugs supply were also found.
The court heard that the heroin recovered, if bought in bulk, would be worth £1,520, but sold in deals would have the maximum resale value of £7,398, a profit of £5,878.
Mr MacKenzie said that Turpin, who comes from Liverpool and appeared in court on crutches, was involved in the large scale supply and distribution of heroin in Shetland, a place Turpin had no connection with. Turpin had told police that he was in Shetland because he was fearful of remaining in Liverpool as he had upset “major players in the underworld” there by writing off a car. However Merseyside police had no record of such an incident.
Defence solicitor Tommy Allan said Turpin, who did not appear to be a regular user of heroin himself, had been placed in a position where people wanted money from him. There was no suggestion he became involved in supplying drugs to support his own habit, but he had to do something to pay off his debt. He did not have a large history of offending and had co-operated with the authorities.
But Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood said he was not satisfied there were any exceptional circumstances to avoid a custodial sentence. Four years would have been appropriate, he said, but taking into account Turpin’s lack of record and the fact he had pleaded guilty, the sentence would be reduced to three years.
Meanwhile a drugs courier was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment when he appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
William John Mackinnon, 38, a prisoner in Aberdeen, had previously pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin on 13th May at Holmsgarth Ferry Terminal, an offence committed while he had been on bail from Aberdeen and Dundee Sheriff Courts.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that acting on intelligence, police officers had met the ferry at 7.30am on 13th May. Mackinnon was found to have a small quantity of heroin in his jacket pocket and later produced a further bag of heroin at Lerwick police station.
He fully co-operated with police and admitted his involvement, saying he had been an addict for two years and had a £700 debt to pay. His sole purpose in delivering the heroin was to settle his debt. The heroin he brought to Shetland weighed 54.8 grammes and had a street value of £8,000.
Defence solicitor Mike Monro said that Mackinnon had suffered mentally and physically through drugs and now had a huge amount of debt. He had helped police by imparting information to them, both here and while he had been imprisoned at Craiginches in Aberdeen.
However Mr Monro said that Mackinnon, who had already been in custody since 14th May and was currently serving a sentence for fraud imposed by Dundee Sheriff Court, knew he was going to prison and drugs would not be condoned anywhere. Without “mules”, he said, drugs would not get here.
Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood agreed Mackinnon had done his best to co-operate, and handed down a discounted sentence of 20 months, to run consecutively from the end of his current sentence.
Reacting to the sentences, Inspector Ross MacKillop of Lerwick police said: “We welcome the sentences, which send a strong message that we are going to continue our efforts to disrupt the drugs supply to Shetland. It is obvious that [these men] played a significant part in supplying heroin to Shetland.
“We are going to continue to work with our partner agencies to reduce the availability of drugs here, and would appeal for the continued help of the public who can either contact us at Lerwick police station or Crimestoppers.”
Community Alcohol and Drugs Service manager Gill Hession said that the amount of heroin being confiscated in Shetland was “great” and praised the valuable work of the police, especially in partnership with the drugs workers. The police had referred many people to the drugs service, she said, and “great strides” were being made in teamwork.