A man acting as a “foot soldier” for a drug gang in the southwest of England was jailed for 20 months at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.
The court heard that a “drug syndicate” had pressurised Jamie Southgate, a 42-year-old, from Salcombe in Devon into carrying cannabis resin worth £34,000 to Shetland. It was suggested that batch of drugs was merely a decoy to draw police away from a larger amount being imported.
The court heard that police “acting on intelligence” had stopped Southgate’s car leaving the NorthLink ferry terminal on 5th September last year.
Southgate admitted being involved in the supply of cannabis resin at NorthLink and elsewhere in Lerwick.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that the police had “intelligence” that the accused was coming off the ferry. He was discovered to have 48, 100-gramme bars of cannabis resin in his car worth £33,800 when broken down into the smallest street level deals. It was accepted that Southgate was “a courier, a delivery man”.
He said Shetland had been targeted by an organised crime group from the southwest of England and that pressure had been put on Southgate in a “very real sense”.
Defence agent Tommy Allan said that he had been present when Southgate, of Chandlers Heights, Shadycombe Road, was interviewed by police and there had been a “clear look of shock” on his face when they showed him the package.
He added: “None of the value was to accrue to him. He was a foot-soldier and small courier” and had been “taken the loan of” by other people. Southgate had struggled with the misuse of drugs, he added.
Mr Allan said that when departing from Aberdeen, a man had jumped out of Southgate’s car at the last minute as it was queuing to get on the ferry and had told Southgate that he would be making the trip alone.
He said that most of the trafficking from southwest England was in class A drugs and suggested the cannabis was merely a decoy while the class A drugs got through.
Sheriff Kevin Veal said that it was nonetheless Southgate who was in the dock. He sentenced him to 20 months imprisonment, reduced from 24 months.