Persistent drug offender jailed for four years for supplying heroin

A persistent drug offender who supplied heroin from a house in Lerwick has been jailed for four years.

Steven Priest, 46, was caught with £7,400 worth of the class A drug and more than £2,000 in cash at the house in Bruce Cresent on 10th August by police acting on a tip-off.

He had been jailed for the same length of time by the High Court in Aberdeen for a similar offence in 2003.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday, Sheriff Graeme Napier told him that given his previous record he would have received six years if he had not admitted the offence.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said police were acting on information when they searched the house at around 2.30pm.

Priest was found alone in the house, and allowed police access before “advising them at the outset” there were controlled drugs in the premises.

“The search continued and a number of items concerned with actively being concerned in supply were recovered,” said Mr MacKenzie. These included tin foil squares, six mobile phones and £2,445 in cash.

Priest was taken to the police station in Lerwick and, under interview, denied supplying the drugs for others, claiming they were for personal use.

A quantity of substance found at the house was confirmed as being diamorphine after analysis. It weighed 52.34 grammes, and could have been worth £7,400 if broken down and sold on the streets.

Mr MacKenzie said he was seeking the forfeiture of the drug-related items as well as the money.

Defence agent James Irvine said Priest had “no difficulty” with the forfeiture of the money and other items.

He said Priest, a former forklift driver for Shetland Catch, was engaged to be married. He was paid off in March but had been hoping to get work again in October, however events had taken their course and he was now facing charges in court.

He said it was “clear from the Crown’s narration” Priest co-operated in full with the police, although he added his client had made “no admissions” regarding the supply of heroin.

“However it is clear the Crown would have invited a jury to draw certain inferences from the quantity of money that was found,” said Mr Irvine.

Sheriff Napier said the High Court had previously upheld views he had expressed on the sentencing of drug offenders.

“You’ll be well aware of the view expressed from this bench about the devastating impact the availability of diamorphine has. Anyone concerned in the supply of diamorphine can expect to be dealt with seriously.

“Given your past record you should not be surprised when I choose a figure of six years imprisonment as a starting point.”

However he reduced the sentence to four years, backdated to when Priest was first taken into custody. He also ordered the forfeiture of scales and the cash.

Meanwhile, pushing his victim against a fence at knife-point resulted in an eight month prison sentence for one man in court on Wednesday.

Scott Patterson, 40, of Horseshoe Close in Virkie, admitted assaulting John Hart to his injury with the knife in Brae on 9th May.

Patterson grabbed the man by the throat before forcing him against the fence in a public car park near Gossaford.

He had flown into a rage when a window in his sister’s house was broken – the house had previously been owned by his father who had recently died.

The court heard Patterson had been extremely concerned about his actions. Defence agent Tommy Allan said the incident had caused a great deal of stress for his client.

“He saw it as an insult to his father that his house had been vandalised,” he said. “He has at all times said, ‘I know I’ve done wrong’.  He does not want you to take the view he thinks in any way his conduct was acceptable, or that there is any justification for him having a knife in his possession, particularly in that situation.”

He said Patterson had been intending to scare Mr Hart, and not to physically hurt him.

The court heard heard Patterson’s victim was not seriously injured as a result of the offence.

Mr Allan added the social enquiry report made “no secret” that Patterson was someone struggling with alcohol problems.

However he said Patterson had never had the chance of any alternatives to custody in the past, and urged Sheriff Graeme Napier to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence.

He said his client had been offered the chance of employment, which was “something Mr Patterson could well do with”.

“The only other thing I can do is emphasise the effect this has had on him,” added Mr Allan.

Sentencing Patterson, the sheriff said he was taking into account what had been said, and the contents of a “very full” social enquiry report

“You have to recognise that you went in search of somebody having armed yourself with a knife,” he said.

The sheriff added he had to mark the seriousness of the incident by sending Patterson to custody.

Imprisoning him for eight months, he ordered Patterson be subject to a supervised release order for four months.


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