HMA v KEITH GERRARD MILNE

At the High Court in Aberdeen on 16 December 2014, Lady Wolffe imposed a Community Payback Order upon Keith Milne after the accused pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

On sentencing, Lady Wolffe made the following statement in court:

“Keith Gerrard Milne, you have pled guilty to a charge of being concerned in the supply of cocaine, a class A drug, contrary to section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  

You were observed to be meeting with your co-accused on 9 January 2014. You each arrived in your own vehicles. After surveillance was undertaken, you were stopped. The police recovered one parcel from your own car. This was subsequently tested and found to be about 500 grams and to comprise a cocaine / benzocaine mix with purity levels of about five per cent. This single parcel of class A drugs could be bought for about £10,000 to £15,000. It had a maximum potential street value of between about £28,000 and £35,000. I note that your co-accused had about seven times as much of this substance in his possession and that he was fully aware of the illicit contents of the packages in his possession.

I have had regard to the Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW). Apart from one minor road traffic matter, it notes that you have no history of previous offending. You were in work as a self-employed taxi driver, are married and with a grown family. You should not have found yourself in your present predicament. You were motivated by financial need, given the substantial gambling debts you had accumulated. The offending was opportunistic. You were offered a sum of money to take possession of an unknown parcel for a period of hours. There may be a degree of naivety on your part, but you should have appreciated that you were being invited to participate in an illicit activity of some sort. You now have a better appreciation of this.

The CJSW Report records that are fully remorseful for what you have done. You accept responsibility for your involvement in the matter to which you have pled guilty. It is suggested in the CJSW Report that, given your age, lack prior offending behaviour, acceptance of responsibility and co-operation with the authorities, a non-custodial community-based disposal would be of greater benefit to you. Until this point, you were also a productive member of society. While by reason of suspension as a consequence of this charge you have lost your self-employment, you have nonetheless gone out and secured other employment. Although you have worked there only for a number of months, you are highly regarded and have a degree of trust readily reposed in you by your current employer. Your position remains open to you once this matter is resolved. Your family remains supportive of you.

I have also had regard to all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation. In addition to the matters noted above, I am asked to take account of your age, having just turned 56, your family and personal circumstances and that you will never place yourself in such circumstances again. I take into account the acceptance by you of your responsibility in respect of the charge.

The abuse of drugs is a modern scourge on society. The disapproval and discouragement of this harmful trade must extend to all aspects of its supply and those who facilitate it.

You have pled guilty to a serious matter. However, I note that you had in your possession a far lesser amount than your co-accused and your involvement appears to have been opportunistic and limited to this event. I take into account of all of the factors prayed in aid of leniency. Given all of this, and noting your personal circumstances, the lesser amount of drugs found in your possession, the degree of naivety and your lack of record, I am prepared to exercise a degree of leniency.

You should count yourself very fortunate that I am not going to impose a custodial sentence. I am going to impose the maximum non-custodial sentence open to me. I am proposing to impose a Community Payback Order upon you today. The Community Payback Order will require you to undertake a number of requirements that I am going to explain to you.  You should listen carefully as I will ask you firstly to confirm that you understand the terms of the Order that I am going to impose and secondly, that you are willing to comply with the Order.

A Community Payback order is a punishment that requires you to pay back to the community for the offence that you have committed. I am satisfied that the offence is serious enough to warrant my imposition of this Order, for the reasons I have explained above. From today you will be subject to a Community Payback Order. The Order which I am imposing will include a requirement to perform an Unpaid Work or other activity work requirement of 200 hours. This period has been discounted in view of your early plea from 300 hours. This work will be carried out under the instruction of your responsible officer who will be a member of the Criminal Justice Social Department - that is a social worker - with whom you must stay in touch.  He/she is responsible for allocating you to the work that you will undertake which must be completed under his/her supervision and in a satisfactory manner.  You must report to this social worker as required. This work must be completed within a period of six months from today’s date. While the Order is in force, you should report any change to your address and the times that you work to your responsible officer.

If you fail to comply with any of the requirements that are being imposed in this Order, you will be reported back to this court and be dealt with for that failure. The Court will either issue a warrant for your arrest or you will be cited to come to court.  If it is proved that you failed to comply without reasonable excuse with the terms of any requirement, the court can fine you, revoke the order and deal with you as if the order had not been imposed, revoke the order and sentence you to imprisonment, vary the order to impose a new requirement or vary, revoke or discharge any requirement imposed by the Order, or impose both a fine and vary the Order.

This Order is a sentence. If your circumstances change while the order is in force, you or your supervising officer will be entitled to apply to the court to have the order varied, revoked or discharged. The Clerk will provide you with a copy of the Order in Court.”