HMA v CHRISTOPHER GILLESPIE, THOMAS ROBERTSON, WILLIAM WOODS, JAMIE WOODS, MICHAEL JOHN QUEEN

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Stewart sentenced Christopher Gillespie, Thomas Robertson, William Woods, Jamie Woods and Michael Queen after they pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs.

On sentencing Lord Stewart made the following statement in court:

30 October 2013

“Christopher Gillespie, Thomas Robertson, William Woods, Jamie Woods and Michael Queen you have been convicted on your own pleas and in different respects of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs According to the agreed facts the principal target of the surveillance which led to the charges to which you have pled guilty was Michael Queen. I judge the most serious offence to be the charge 9 offence to which Michael Queen has pled guilty of directing others to commit serious offences contrary to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 section 30(1)(a). The statutory maximum sentence for that offence is fourteen years. Clearly much more serious offending than Michael Queen’s could be punished under that provision. In order to leave headroom for the punishment of much more serious offending I am constrained to accept that the sentence imposed on Michael Queen cannot approach the maximum. In the interests of comparative justice the sentences imposed on the co-accused who committed the individual offences of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 s. 4(3)(b) under Michael Queen’s direction must be substantially less than the sentence imposed on him. There is some scope for distinguishing between and among you.

CHRISTOPHER GILLESPIE age 37, you have been convicted in terms acceptable to the prosecutor on charge 2 by virtue of your plea tendered on 4 September 2013 at the third preliminary hearing. Charge 2 relates to being concerned in the supply of Cannabis Resin, a class B drug, at various addresses in Glasgow, Paisley and Wishaw on 29 August 2012 under deletion of the serious organised crime aggravation. During that day you had contact with both Robertson and Queen. Delivery of the drugs apparently to the account of Queen was achieved by 14.30. In the evening information was received by the police that the controlled drugs were at your home address in Newmains. Robertson was at the house with you. At 22.15 the address was searched under warrant and cannabis resin to a retail value of £69,000 was seized along with polythene wrapping, a deflated balloon with Queen’s fingerprint on it found in your kitchen bin, a knife with traces of cannabis on the blade found on your kitchen worktop, pieces of cannabis found on your kitchen worktop, six mobile phones. A phone seized at the property shows a connection between you and Robertson and is reflective of you following instructions given by Queen. Your criminal record is negligible and I am prepared to treat you as a first offender.

You were bailed on 31 August 2012 and remanded in custody on 4 September 2013.

Having regard to Mr Moir’s plea in mitigation on your behalf and to all the circumstances brought to my attention I shall sentence you to a period of two years imprisonment backdated to 4 September 2013 when you were remanded in custody. It is agreed that indications of an acceptable plea were made between the first and second preliminary hearings and that you also indicated your willingness to give evidence for the prosecution. Your willingness to give evidence substantially enhances the utilitarian value of your plea. The indications are that your involvement arose from, and would not have happened but for an approach by Robertson. I have discounted the sentence in terms of section 196 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Had you not pled guilty and offered to testify I should have imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment.

THOMAS ROBERTSON, age 32, you have been convicted in terms acceptable to the prosecutor of charge two on the indictment, that is of being concerned in the supply of Cannabis Resin, a class B drug, at various addresses in Glasgow, and Wishaw on 29 August 2012 under deletion of the serious organised crime aggravation but with the bail aggravation standing. I deduce that you played a greater role in the supply operation than did the first accused Christopher Gillespie. Unlike him you did not offer to testify. Unlike him you have a directly analogous previous conviction.

According to the notice tendered by the advocate depute you have been convicted on 14 previous occasions and you have two drugs convictions one of which is a section 4(3)(b) conviction in 2006 for which you were sentenced to 38 months imprisonment.  Your counsel submits that it is unnecessary to have a background report. You have two convictions postdating the current indictment but in respect of matters pre-dating the present indictment events. One of these is a section 4(3)(b) conviction relating to a Class A drug for which a sentence of 38 months imprisonment was imposed running from 27 March 2013; a consecutive sentence of 24 months imprisonment was imposed for a conviction on the same day for assault to severe injury. The total effect is that you are currently subject to sentences which are not due to expire until 27 May 2018. I agree with Mr Ewing on your behalf that it would be excessive to make a sentence of imprisonment imposed now consecutive to those sentences. I also think that it would be arguably excessive to make a sentence imposed now consecutive even to the 38 month sentence.

Having regard to Mr Ewing’s plea in mitigation on your behalf and to all the circumstances brought to my attention I shall sentence you to a period of four years and nine months imprisonment five months of which is attributable to the bail aggravation backdated to 4 September 2013 when you were remanded in custody.  Your intimation of intention to plead was made on Friday 25 October last week. I have discounted the sentence in terms of section 196 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Had you not pled guilty at the trial diet I should have sentenced you to a period of five years in prison, six months of which would have been attributable to the bail aggravation. I have taken account of the fact that you have spent 83 days in custody from the first remand until you were released on bail.

WILLIAM WOODS, age 34, you have been convicted in terms acceptable to the prosecutor of charge five and charge seven on the indictment by virtue of your plea tendered on 4 September 2013 being the third preliminary hearing. Charge five is a charge of being concerned on your own in the supply of Cannabis Resin a class B drug at Milliken Drive, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, on 30 August 2012; and charge seven is a charge of being concerned in the supply of Diamorphine, a class A drug, at Milliken Drive, Kilbarchan under deletion as regards both charges of the serious organised crime aggravation.

As regards charge five according to the agreed facts a total of almost 13 kilos of cannabis with a retail value of almost £65,000 was recovered from your motor vehicle and from the hall cupboard of your house.

As regards charge seven the police seized from your home almost 18 grams of diamorphine mixing agent, caffeine and paracetamol, within a mortar and pestle containing diamorphine residue, a mechanical press, press plate and press mould with diamorphine residue. These items are associated with the mixing and pressing of diamorphine and adulterants into compacted blocks. The Crown takes no issue with the suggestion that these items were simply being held in your home that day as opposed to being used by you. You have five previous convictions, none analogous and you have not previously been imprisoned or been subject to a sentence directly alternative to imprisonment.

Having regard to Mr O’Donnell’s plea in mitigation on your behalf and to all the circumstances brought to my attention, and exercising such leniency as I can in light of your difficult circumstances and the positive features of your case, I shall sentence you to a period of three years imprisonment on charge five and three years imprisonment on charge seven to be served concurrently both backdated to 4 September 2013 when you were remanded in custody. I note that you offered to plead to charge five only at the first preliminary hearing but you did not tender an acceptable plea until a later date.  You did not offer to testify. I have discounted the sentence in terms of section 196 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Had you not pled guilty in acceptable terms when you did in the circumstances you did I should have sentenced you to a period of three and a half years imprisonment on each charge.

JAMIE WOODS,  age 24, you have been convicted in terms acceptable to the prosecutor of charge five on the indictment by virtue of your plea tendered on 29 July 2013 being the first preliminary hearing and accepted on 4 September 2013 being the third preliminary hearing, that is of being concerned with others in the supply of Cannabis Resin, a class B drug, at Milliken Drive, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, and at an address in Paisley on 30 August 2012 under deletion of the serious organised crime aggravation.

As regards charge 5 according to the agreed narrative a total of about 8 kilos of cannabis with a retail value of almost £40,000 was recovered from the motor vehicle in which you were travelling and from your own or your partner’s address. Your counsel appears to accept that you have pled in terms that implicates you in the whole amount of Cannabis recovered in relation to charge five. On a generous view of the circumstances you are not responsible for the drugs that were found in the house. On the other hand unlike Christopher Gillespie in relation to charge two you were taking an active part in the supply of the drugs when you were detained.

You have no previous analogous convictions and you have not previously been imprisoned. I accept that for practical purposes you are a first offender.

Having regard to Mr McCallum’s plea in mitigation on your behalf and to all the circumstances brought to my attention I shall sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 27 months backdated to 4 September 2013 when you were remanded in custody. While you offered to plead at the first preliminary hearing you did not offer to testify. I have discounted your sentence in terms of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 section 196. Had you not pled guilty in when you did I should have sentenced you to a period of three years imprisonment.

MICHAEL JOHN QUEEN,  age 28, you have been convicted in terms acceptable to the prosecutor of charge nine and charge 10 on the indictment by virtue of your plea tendered on 4 September 2013 being the third preliminary hearing. Charge nine relates to directing others during a period of 10 days at various places in Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire to be concerned in the supply of controlled drugs contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 s. 4(3)(b) and organising, directing and controlling the supply of controlled drugs forming the subject of charges two, five and seven, namely Cannabis Resin, a class B drug, and Diamorphine, a Class A drug, contrary to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 s. 30(1)(a). I have already described the evidence relating to charges two, five and seven. There is visual surveillance, communications evidence and finger print evidence connecting you with the subject of those charges. The crown has accepted the deletion of the allegation that you purchased the drugs. Your involvement places you at middle management level in the supply operations.

Charge 10 relates to being concerned personally in the supply of a Class A drug namely Diamorphine on 11 October 2012 at your home address. The main seizure on that occasion was a large quantity of diamorphine mixing agent which the agreed narrative states could have been used in the production of street quality heroin having a retail value of almost £1,500,000 pounds: but of course no actual diamorphine, not even a trace, was found in your possession. The value of the mixer was about £8,000. The serious organised crime aggravation has been deleted. I accept Mr Renucci’s submission, which may well be supported by the agreed narrative, that this offence should be treated as part of the same course of conduct as the charge nine offence. This was a course of conduct that continued after your co-accused had been arrested.

I note that you have two drugs convictions one of which was for possession with intent to supply on indictment in respect of which a 13 ½ month sentence was imposed.

I have already explained that your sentence on charge nine cannot approach the maximum. On the other hand your sentence must be more severe than the punishment imposed on the various co-accused who committed offences under your direction.

Having regard to Mr Renucci’s plea in mitigation on your behalf and to all the circumstances brought to my attention I shall sentence you on charge nine to a period of seven years imprisonment backdated to 4 September 2013 when you were remanded in custody; and in respect of charge 10 I shall sentence you to a period of three years imprisonment to be served concurrently and also to be backdated to 4 September 2013. I note that in the weeks before the first preliminary hearing it is agreed that there were clear indications of your willingness to resolve matters and that discussions continued. An acceptable plea was tendered at the third preliminary hearing. I have discounted the sentences in terms of section 196 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Had you not pled guilty when you did I should have sentenced you to eight years and three-and-a-half years imprisonment respectively."

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