A sportsman turned drug dealer is beginning a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for supplying cocaine.
Shetland rugby full back and goal kicker Paul Grant, 25, of Burgh Road in Lerwick, previously admitted pushing the Class A drug at the town’s Freefield and elsewhere.
The offence came to light after Grant was stopped by police for his driving, and was found to have a bag of cocaine worth £1,638 at street-level.
A subsequent search of his house uncovered mobile phones which were “interrogated” to uncover names as well as incoming and outgoing texts relating to drug dealing on a “wholesale” basis.
Some of the texts contained references to three or four figure sums of debt. A search of Grant’s house revealed scales, cut food bags, and a hand-written note relating to drug debt of £500 in relation to one transaction.
Lerwick Sheriff Court was told Grant was in control of a tightly-knit network of sub-dealers.
The outcome of his case had been delayed after the Crown office said Grant was more deeply involved in the drug trade than he had been letting on.
At today’s hearing defence agent Tommy Allan said evidence gathered from the mobile phones showed Grant’s involvement had been wider than first believed.
“There was a dispute between the prosecution and the defence at the level to which he was involved.
“He maintained he was only supplying a small group of friends.
“Looking at the phone records it’s clear things had grown beyond that.
“He still maintains he did not supply to anybody he did not know.
“If, during the period of liability, anybody had asked Mr Grant if he considered himself a dealer he would have denied that, because he did not see himself in that way.”
Mr Allan insisted Grant had “not accumulated a vast array of assets”.
He said Grant had already lost his job and “appreciates there will be a price to pay. He realises a jail sentence is inevitable.”
Mr Allan said Grant had not been involved in any other kind of offending. He said a social enquiry report had shown Grant was unlikely to offend again, particularly in relation to drugs.
“He’s not used it [drugs] since this offence came to light. He’s made a huge mistake here, and he knows this.”
The defence agent added Grant had “let down” those who might have admired him for his considerable sporting achievements. As well as playing rugby he is a talented goalkeeper with Lerwick Celtic FC and Shetland.
Mr Allan said Grant had not helped himself by “burying his head in the sand” about the case against him.
“I think he simply didn’t realise the depth of trouble he was in.
“He did co-operate with the police and has pled guilty without the need for anyone to come to court to give evidence.”
Sheriff Philip Mann told Grant the court was unlikely to impose anything other than a custodial sentence for such an offence unless there were “truly exceptional circumstances”. He added there was nothing in Grant’s case which was exceptional.
“You were involved in the distribution of significant quantities of cocaine. Maybe it started off as bulk buying for yourself and your friends, but it has ended up a more serious operation.
“There is a serious drug problem in Shetland, as has been reported in the press, and the court must do what it can to help stamp out that problem. I have a public duty to punish those stupid enough to become involved in the supply of drugs.
“It is clear to me you will pay a heavy price, and others will as well, as a result of your custodial sentence, but the fact is you chose to become involved in the supply of drugs and you must have known the risks you were taking.”
He granted the forfeiture of items recovered from Grant’s house.