A courier who acted as a “mule” for drug traffickers by bringing heroin to Shetland was jailed for four years when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court.
Aberdeen prisoner Peter Purcell, 35, admitted supplying the drug along with the other class A substance fluoroamphetamine – a rare sighting on the illicit drugs market – at Holmsgarth Road on 22nd September.
A police search revealed he was carrying 918 grammes of party drug fluoroamphetamine with a street value of £7,990, along with 63.21 grammes of heroin worth £6,321.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said this was the first time fluoroamphetamine had been recovered in Shetland, and only the second time in the Northern Constabulary force area.
He said Purcell was from a “long line” of Liverpudlian suppliers, who had acted as a mule to bring the drugs to Shetland.
The court heard Purcell had suffered from a degenerative disease of the spine since he was 18, and had struggled to find full time employment in Liverpool.
He moved to Aberdeen after hearing from friends and connections there were offshore job opportunities in the granite city.
He still could not find work, however, and found himself on incapacity and mobility benefits before falling in with a bad crowd.
Defence agent Nigel Beaument said Purcell was befriended by a young woman who took him on the northbound ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick with the drugs.
He said the woman had withdrawn £200 from a bank cash machine before boarding the NorthLink ferry with Purcell, who had been promised around £500 for his part in the enterprise.
He was told he would be met in Lerwick by a third party, who would take the package from him. He was instructed to return to the mainland immediately afterwards.
The court heard Purcell did not have a penny on him when he boarded the ferry. He discovered subsequent to his arrest that the woman had previous convictions for drug offences.
Police, acting on intelligence, arrested him at the ferry terminal.
Mr Beaument said Purcell “spoke extensively” to officers and “appreciated the deep trouble he is in for his involvement in this enterprise”.
“His role has been as a mule. He appreciates he has played an important part – a link in the chain of supply. He appreciates he has physically moved the drugs from the mainland to the islands.”
Purcell initially appeared in private the day after the offence, when he was committed for further examination and remanded in custody. He reappeared in the dock on 30th September when he was fully committed before being again held on remand.
Sentencing, Sheriff Graeme Napier told Purcell the quantities of drugs were some of the highest he had seen in recent times. “You can expect me to choose as a starting point a significant period of detention.”
He sentenced him to four years imprisonment backdated to 23rd September when he was first remanded.