Sheriff Graeme Napier has renewed his attack on drug dealers who seek profit out of the “abject misery” caused by heroin addiction.
He said drug users who depended on dealers smuggling the Class A drug reminded him of his duty to “mark society’s disapproval” of the harmful trade.
The sheriff’s comments came as he sentenced a Liverpool man who took £5,000 worth of heroin to Shetland to over three and a half years in jail.
Thomas McAleavey, 48, of Wye Street, Liverpool, is starting his 43-month sentence after admitting he supplied the Class A drug on 27th May last year.
McAleavey was caught as he came off the NorthLink ferry at Holmsgarth. Sentence had been deferred until today for background reports to be compiled.
The court heard McAleavey had been harassed into carrying the harmful substance to make amends after stealing drugs.
Defence agent Tommy Allan said McAleavey had gained no financial benefit from his involvement in the escapade.
“His position is he was a foot-soldier, a courier, who stood to gain no financial benefit from this,” Mr Allan said.
“This is not something he wanted to do, but he accepts he could have sought help to avoid doing it.”
He said McAleavey had been in custody since he pleaded guilty to the offence on 20th April. Before then McAleavey had been on bail. But Mr Allan said his time at liberty had not been easy. However, he had made progress with his addiction and is now clean.
Sentencing, sheriff Napier said: “This is yet another case involving a Merseyside drugs courier caught importing a significant quantity of diamorphine – in this case £5,000 in pre-prepared deals – into Shetland with a view to someone making a profit out of the abject misery occasioned by addiction to this harmful substance which still seems to find an allure for many of the young people. That is, those who survive, who pass their lives in what, to an outside observer, seems a grossly unsatisfying way.
“Some of those customers, past, present and future, will be in court today and if I needed a reminder that I should continue to mark society’s disapproval of this trade, the regular appearance of these past and current addicts – even the recurring ones – provides that.”
The sheriff said he had considered the background report, and took into account the “background of harassment associated with you having previously stolen a quantity of drugs, rather than you acting as a directly paid courier”.
He backdated the sentence to 20th April when McAleavey was held on remand.