An Aberdeen man who tried to smuggle heroin into the isles onboard the NorthLink ferry has been jailed for 200 days following an appearance at Lerwick Sheriff Court.
Kyle Mitchell, 26, of the city’s Glenbervie Road, was caught with £1,100 of the class A drug concealed internally when he arrived at the Holmsgarth Ferry Terminal on 9th October last year.
The court heard Mitchell had been befriended by a Shetland woman who invited him for a weekend stay in the isles. The two travelled north with the woman’s mother.
But an hour before the ferry arrived in Lerwick the woman told Mitchell she had obtained a drug in Aberdeen which she wanted him to conceal as they disembarked.
However police had intelligence that pointed towards two women, known to be involved in supplying heroin, coming up on the boat. Officers had also received a tip-off that they were being accompanied by a man.
On leaving the boat, Mitchell was left by the two women after they became aware of a police presence at the terminal. He was detained and a search was subsequently carried out.
Sentence had been deferred for social work reports. Today’s court heard Mitchell was the latest in “a long line” of Aberdonians who had made the trip to Shetland while concealing illegal drugs.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said: “Police had intelligence that the accused would be travelling on the ferry from Aberdeen with two females. The accused was detained as he disembarked.”
He added Mitchell had produced heroin weighing 10.6 grammes, which would realise a potential street value of £1,100.
Defence agent Gail Goodfellow said Mitchell had no previous convictions and no outstanding cases.
She said he had suffered significant medical problems which had left him both physically and mentally impaired.
Mitchell, she said, had suffered a pulmonary embolism in October 2010, and had suffered a stroke during the course of his surgery. He still suffers a mild degree of cognitive difficulty with possible epilepsy.
His parents had been taking care of him when he was befriended by the woman. Ms Goodfellow said Mitchell agreed to go on what he thought would be a “very short break” to Shetland, with the woman agreeing to look after him.
“His position is he became involved in the transportation of this drug to Lerwick at the request of a young female who is local to the isles and who befriended him.
“Shortly before the ferry arrived in Lerwick the girl explained to him she had obtained drugs in Aberdeen she wanted to take onto the island, but because she was known to the authorities here she asked if he would be prepared to take the drugs off the ferry for her himself.
“He found himself in a difficult situation. He didn’t know anybody in Lerwick, and would have had nowhere to stay. He considered her to be a friend and, regrettably, agreed not fully considering the consequences of his acceptance.”
The defence agent admitted Mitchell had a history of drug misuse and was “not entirely naive”.
She urged Sheriff John Rafferty to spare Mitchell a custodial sentence, citing his physical and mental problems, and insisted he was gaining help in Aberdeen to overcome his problems.
She added Mitchell would be willing to comply with the terms of a community payback order.
However, after a half hour retirement from the bench, the sheriff told Mitchell: “I have formed the view that, given the gravity of the nature of this offence, a custodial sentence is necessary.”
He sentenced him to 200 days behind bars, reduced from 300 to reflect his early plea.