Grant explains his hopes for the future

It is almost 12-months since Paul Grant was jailed for three and a half years for his involvement in supplying Class A drugs. He thought his conviction would spell the end to his developing talents as a sportsman and his hopes of becoming an electrical engineer.

But Shetland Rugby Club, in a move which has not been popular with everyone associated with the sport, has given him a second chance, allowing him to represent the club while on weekend release. Speaking to JIM TAIT, Paul explains how that has helped him focus on the future and how he hopes his experience will help other youngsters avoid making the same mistakes.

“There is a serious drug problem in Shetland 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.”

When those words were uttered by Sheriff Philip Mann in January 2013 Paul Grant already knew his fate. He was facing an obvious jail sentence and the three and a half years he received was no great shock.

Paul Grant is working hard to turn his life around after being convicted a year ago of drug-dealing. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Paul Grant is working hard to turn his life around after being convicted a year ago of drug-dealing. Photo: Dave Donaldson

A year on, however, and on regular open release from Castle Huntly Prison, Paul’s aim is to deter others from taking the same life into crime and making the same mistakes he did.

He has been speaking to youth club members in Brechin and Dundee about the pitfalls of drugs and intends, if possible, to do the same back in Shetland when he is freed for good.

In February 2012 everything was going well for Paul. Coming from a respected Lerwick family, he was in the middle of an electrical engineering apprenticeship at Sullom Voe Terminal and in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend.

On the sporting field Paul was really starting to excel. At football he had played in goal for Lerwick Celtic and also been in the county squad on several occasions. On the rugby field he was full back in the successful Shetland team making its mark in the Scottish regional leagues. As a consistent kicker, the best the team had ever had, he was a vital ingredient in the mix.

But away from all that there was a much more sinister story. Paul was involved in the supply of drugs and two years ago he was caught by police with thousands of pounds worth of Class A substances.

After a few months in jail he learned of the possibility of some kind of open release, and made that his target. Attempting to stop others from going down the same road he did is one of the main aims of the scheme.

“I had no idea about the open prison system but it was put to me that I would be a candidate, but before that I had absolutely no idea.

“It was for sort of younger prisoners so they asked me if I would do that kind of thing. I am currently going out to youth clubs and giving talks to youths aged 12 to 18. You speak about prison life, how you got there and the effect it’s had on your family. It’s just to deter young people from entering a life of crime.

“Talking to young people about my experiences throughout my time in the prison system is something I would like to carry on with when I return to Shetland for good. I would certainly be willing to do that in Shetland if the chance arises.

“I am sorry for all of this, and what it’s done to my family. My mam and dad are respected people. It was difficult for them but they are coming to terms with it now and me coming home has definitely helped with my mam’s situation anyway.”

It was former Shetland rugby coach Bryan Leask, now secretary of the club, and his successor Neil Scott who made the decision to incorporate Paul back into the team.

Paul said: “Rugby has been great for me. It has helped break up my spells away in between home leaves and is a great stress relief also. It has given me the opportunity to feel accepted again, something I thought would take a long time after the mistakes I had made. It is an activity that gives me a sense of normality as well which has been great.”

For full story see today’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • David Toney

    • January 17th, 2014 12:15

    This story shows the real courage of this young man by speaking out in public about the troubles he’s had, he is going threw a very difficult period in his life and clearly deserves a second chance and we should all support him. Its great that the Shetland Rugby club have allowed him back, i hope other organisations follow thier lead and do the same for Paul and others like him.

    Id also hope that he gets the chance to complete his electrical engineering apprenticeship and continue his working career, i guy with this courage and positive attitude would benefit any company.

  • Arthur Chancer

    • January 17th, 2014 15:28

    This is someone who peddled in misery how can anyone condone this?
    No courage required just a brass neck is all that is needed.
    How many lives and families has he ruined?

    • Robert Duncan

      • January 18th, 2014 16:14

      And now he’s moved on and is encouraging others not to make the same mistakes, which can and very likely will make a noticeably positive difference.

      To praise his turnaround is not to condone what he did.

  • Steven Jarmson

    • January 17th, 2014 17:24

    I think article skims over some of the reasons people don’t like drug dealers.

    They ruin people’s lives by peddling these horrible substances.

    I know many people who have had and still have drug problems. I know just as many who aren’t here today directly due to drugs. I lived with an ex who had severe drugs problems and was extemely volatile and violent as a result, a brother who had severe drugs problems and nearly died as a result and wasn’t really a terribly good person to be around. Living life like that is hell on earth. It doesn’t just ruin the addicts life, it damages everyone around them, siblings, children, parents. It harrowing to watch someone you care about doing such damage to themselves and not being able to a thing a thing about it.
    Whilst you are struggling to keep a clear head and hope that nothing too bad happens the dealer swans around splashing the cash and living the high life without thinking about the people who they are destroying all for a cheap buck!

    I happen to have met Paul on many occasions, I always thought he was a nice guy, to be honest, I still do.
    I personally won’t think any different of him due to this conviction.
    But, if he saw the damage and destruction that I have lived through (and many many others still live through) directly due to drugs, I think he wouldn’t just be saying “sorry” to his family and friends who he let down, he would be apologising to everyone who suffered directly due to him supplying their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother or father drugs. Those are the people he has really let down.

    I was lucky, my life still includes my brother. How many others aren’t so lucky because of drugs and the dealers who peddle them?

  • Ian Tinkler

    • January 17th, 2014 19:57

    Time for a change, legalise all drug provision and take drugs out of the criminals hands. Look at Switzerland and their drug controls. No more prostitution to pay for one’s addiction. No more poisonous smack pedalled by pimps. No more muggings and theft to finance an addiction. Cut down on IV infection of AIDS, hepatitis and IV syphilis. No more utterly stupid wasting of police time. Stop the criminal trade making countless millions for the utter scum who profit so well from the drug trade. Pity our politicians are so gutless and stupid to realise prohibition is not working. Pity most people are too stupid or indifferent to care. Stop the criminal trade making countless millions for the utter scum who profit so well from the drug trade. Pity our politicians are so gutless and stupid to realise prohibition is not working. Shetland has lost too many sons and daughters already, how many more kids will OD or go to prostitution?

  • John Tulloch

    • January 17th, 2014 20:41

    Scant signs of the ‘fatted calf’ being trotted out for this ‘Prodigal Son’ (of Shetland).

    This young guy is making a clean breast of his past and trying to undo it the only way he can – by persuading other youngsters not to follow him.

    If he succeeds in turning around even one person who would have supplied the same quantity of drugs he did, he would save the equivalent of whatever suffering he may have contributed to.

    By talking to the kids, Paul Grant is, not only helping to dissuade them from becoming drug dealers but, presumably, also alerting them to the dangers of drug use and so helping them not to become drug users.

    If the customers become fewer the dealers will become fewer.

    And if he fails to dissuade anyone from taking or dealing drugs, he’s still turning himself around – stick with it, Paul!

  • David Toney

    • January 17th, 2014 22:47

    Arthur and Steven , if you took the time and did a bit of research then you would find the drug that was being sold was cocaine , it might have been as little as 20% real cocaine as when it passes threw the hands of various dealers they all cut it with a substitute which increases the quantity of product to sell and increases profit. I know that what he did was wrong but the classification of the drug cocaine is wrong and it is no where near as lethal as heroin, which for whatever reason seems to thrive in Shetland long after the famous dogs against drugs arrived ! Think about it ! before and after ?

    Steven your relating this case with a direct experience you had with drugs, but i guarantee that if you looked into the facts then you would understand that quite a bit of your post is’nt really relevant to this case.

    Arthur whatever your name is ??? , No one is condoning what Mr Grant did but we are simply saying he is trying to do the best to turn around his life and also alerting others to the dangers of drugs, he deserves respect for that. You have clearly shown your ignorance by failing to read the article or the posters comments.

    • Johan Adamson

      • January 21st, 2014 14:39

      How do you know what level of cocaine is in the cocaine you buy from a dealer? It could be full of any old junk with the capacity to harm.

      Any addiction, including alcohol, destroys lives.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • January 22nd, 2014 17:40

      David, he was indeed “only” convicted of supplying coke. If you know anything about coke and it’s use you would know that it is usually used by people who have had a drink, to combine the two creates a new chemical within the body which can then be completely lethal to the user.

      Also, supplying just coke isn’t ever really just that. By supplying the “lesser” drugs, people support the “harder” drugs industry. I’m pretty sure the people who would have been supplying Paul would also have been supplying others with different drugs, heroine being one of those other drugs I suspect.
      The whole illegal drugs industry is linked.

      As for the cut of the drugs, well, that’s the real problem with most drugs. The lesser the purity the harsher the punishment should be in my opinion. Drugs are cut with all sorts, cleaning agents, baking soda, whatever, you never know what you’re getting. The biggest danger in a lot of drugs isn’t the drug itself, it’s the stuff it’s cut with.

      Also, the class of drugs is what it is. People know that if they are caught pushing something which rightly or wrongly is a class A they going to get punished hard.
      The law is the law, and willfully breaking it leads to prison for many people, as in this case.

  • Laura Friedlander

    • January 18th, 2014 10:43

    Well done to Paul Grant for having the courage to face up to his mistakes and for making positive changes in his life.
    As someone who has worked with and supported former offenders, I am only too well aware that often the biggest challenge an offender faces in trying to turn their life around is in trying to ignore the prejudices of nay-sayers who often want to see a person continue to fail in a ‘told you so’ way. These judgmental people are often ill informed and display a lack of ability to take a balanced view in seeing both sides of a story.
    Crime in any form can and often does unfortunately cause irreparable damage, but if an offender is being seen to make a genuine, committed effort to redeem him/herself then he/she deserves support and forgiveness.
    I wish Paul every success with his sporting career and his studies and I hope that he achieves everything he wishes for himself.
    “No matter what you have done in your past, your future is spotless” All the very best to Paul. God bless.

  • John Thomson

    • January 21st, 2014 12:28

    As the Shetland Times has now set a precedent I assume others convicted of serious crimes will be given the chance to explain their actions in the paper. Or maybe you have to be good at sports first!?

    • Johan Adamson

      • January 21st, 2014 14:40

      And be from a well respected family.

      I hope this chance can be given to all our youth who have fallen by the wayside and want to make amends

  • John Thomson

    • January 22nd, 2014 22:08

    I cant disagree with you Johan, you’re absolutely correct he does come from a respected family. What he’s put his Dad, Mam, brother and girlfriend through is unforgivable in my opinion and he will spend a long time rebuilding those bridge’s but a family’s love an forgiveness will no doubt shine through.

    My concern comes from the fact that given a three and a half year sentence for what is a supposedly a serious crime, within about 9 months he has been given effectively free time, paid by the taxpayer, at home to rehabilitate, not doing hard time as we the public are led to believe.

    In the end I do hope Paul has learnt the error of his ways and does use the opportunity to let others learn from his mistakes but I still believe in the spirit of my comment in relation to the article that someone from a less well off / affluent background would never have been given the chance that Paul has been given in Shetland Times and I will be interested to see my view being proved wrong.

  • David Spence

    • February 4th, 2014 16:14

    I congratulate Paul in his efforts to go around the schools, youth etc in an attempt to educate and give warning as to the negative (there are no positives in this vile industry) impact drugs can have on the user as well as family and close friends. Good on you Paul………keep up the good work.

    However, it seems almost hypocritical and double-standard that the production of heroin in Afghanistan (the worlds leading producer) should go up from 65% (when the Taliban were ruling) to almost 95% after the yanks, british and other members of the coalition illegally invaded the country under the guise of the war on terror campaign promoted by a government who peddle more drugs (legal and illegal) than any drug dealer, but we are silenced because they are the good guys and the smaller street peddler is the bad guy. It wasn’t just oil related industries and fields that were protected, it was also vast acres of poppy fields as well……..but we are not told of this in the news, are we?

  • Joe Johnson

    • February 4th, 2014 17:40

    Paul Grant has obviously learnt his lesson and is making an effort to turn his life around. I think it’s a great thing he is doing by going into youth clubs warning youngsters of the dangers of drugs and the consequences of supplying them. He deserves a second chance, I wish him all the best.


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