HMA v John McAteer

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 22 February 2017, Lord Clark sentenced John McAteer to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of diamorphine and cocaine.

On sentencing, Lord Clark made the following statement in court:

“John James McAteer, you have pled guilty to two charges of being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, diamorphine and cocaine, contrary to section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. 

These crimes were committed while you were subject to two bail orders in relation to charges under that Act.

You have a significant record of previous convictions, for a very wide range of offences.

These include three convictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for possession of drugs. In respect of one of these convictions you were imprisoned for three years.

There was a gap of some 14 years in your offending, between 2001 and 2015, but you were then again convicted for possession of drugs.

When the search of your home was carried out in relation to the present matter, quantities of diamorphine and cocaine were found, with a street value of up to £56,890.

Also found were quantities of the common adulterants, used to bulk out such drugs, along with apparatus commonly used by those involved in the onward supply of drugs - scales, polythene bags, razor blades and latex gloves.

It is therefore hard to accept what you are noted as having told the author of the criminal justice social work report – that you were merely storing the drugs for others.

I have had full regard to the terms of the report. It notes that you accept full responsibility for the offences and that you have expressed remorse and regret.

I accept that, as the report states, you had difficulties in your childhood and that you have suffered personal tragedies. I have also had regard to all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation.

However, none of these things can justify or excuse your involvement in the supply of Class A drugs, which as you must know cause real harm, indeed havoc, to the lives of individuals and to communities.

As was accepted on your behalf, a custodial sentence is inevitable. 

You have pled guilty to two charges. I regard these as part of the same course of conduct.

In the circumstances, had you not pled guilty and been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of five years imprisonment in respect of each charge.

In fixing that notional period, I have taken into account the time you spent in custody between 24 July 2015 and 23 September 2015. Six months of each sentence would have been in respect of the bail aggravations.

Having regard to the timing of your guilty plea, in the exercise of my discretion I discount the sentence to one of four years and six months on each charge. These sentences will be served concurrently.

The period of imprisonment will be backdated to the date on which you were taken into custody following your plea of guilty, being 1 February 2017.”