18th October 2018
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Offences lead to jail time for former couple

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A woman concerned in the supply of drugs from her Lerwick home and her former partner, who grabbed a police officer by the throat, have both been jailed.

Simon Cooper, 32, and Paula Flaherty, 35, were handed sentences of 16 months and two years respectively for the offences.

At Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday the court heard how the case was “effectively a roll-up” of two separate instances of police seizing cannabis from a Nederdale address occupied by the pair and how Flaherty’s offending had continued even after the first seizure.

Flaherty admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis while her former partner pleaded guilty to assaulting two police officers. The charge stated that at one point Cooper seized an officer by the neck and compressed his throat.

Fingerprints, signed-for packages of drugs, an examination of bank accounts and CCTV footage all formed parts of the evidence against Flaherty. She was found to be concerned in the supply of the Class B drug between 1st February and 31st October 2017.

Police first became aware of the offending last year when they acted upon intelligence that a package of drugs was about to be delivered to an address occupied by the pair.

On executing the search warrant the police recovered a grinder, two sets of scales “of the type commonly used for weighing small quantities of drugs” and two signed for packages of cannabis – one opened and one unopened.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the packages contained a total of 228 grammes of cannabis, worth up to £3,860. The cannabis had been separated into “small deal size packets”, he said. Fingerprints which were taken from the packages were found to belong to Flaherty.

From here “significant enquiries into her finances were carried out and it was as these protracted enquiries were being carried out that police made a second seizure from her address”, Mr Mackenzie said.

On that occasion police had attended the address owing to “concerns” about Flaherty’s then partner Cooper, formerly of the Nederdale address, now of Hoofields.

When inside the address police detected a “strong smell of herbal cannabis emanating from two packages behind the door”. A total of 57 grammes of cannabis was found with a value of up to £955.

On 31st October, when police attended the address again, Cooper “became extremely aggressive”.

At one point he grabbed an officer by the legs and lifted him off the ground in a move that was compared to a rugby style “dump tackle”. Cooper later grabbed one of the officers by the throat and compressed.

Search warrants were executed and bank accounts belonging to Flaherty were examined. It was found that she was paying substantial sums of money into her accounts by cash deposit. This was supported by CCTV footage which revealed that she would sometimes make more than one deposit per day.

Solicitor Gregor Kelly, representing Flaherty, asked Sheriff Ian Cruickshank to bear in mind that she was a 35-year-old first-time offender. He noted that her relationship had been a “toxic one” and added that background reports suggested she was unlikely to re-offend if she remained single.

Cooper’s defence agent Tommy Allan said a background report stated that his client “repeatedly expresses remorse”. Mr Allan added that Cooper struggled with his emotions and had a borderline personality disorder.

Cooper himself had written a letter to the court which was handed over to the sheriff. He asked for 15 minutes to deliberate on the case, but when he returned any hope the pair had of being dealt with without a custodial sentence was shattered.

To Flaherty the sheriff said: “I fully appreciate that personal circumstances can affect the choices we make … [but] the fact remains that you chose to become involved in the supply of drugs.”

He added that Flaherty had chosen to continue in her “venture” even after the first seizure and sentenced her to two years in prison.

The sheriff then dealt with Cooper, whose actions he referred to as “vicious”. He sentenced him to 16 months in prison.