HMA v Mark Renton

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 30 August 2017, Lord Pentland sentenced Mark Renton to six years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to being concerned in the supplying of a class A drug.

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

“Mark Renton, you have pleaded guilty under the accelerated procedure provided for by section 76 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to contravening section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. You have admitted being concerned in the supplying of the class A drug, diamorphine, over a period of about six weeks earlier this year.  

“When interviewed by the police you explained that you had been selling diamorphine on a daily basis for about a month.

“You claimed to be selling about £250 worth of the drug per day and maintained that you were doing so on behalf of another man, who owned the drugs. 

“You said that your motive was to help the former partner of this man gain access to her children and to assist her in paying off debts.

“Whether these implausible explanations, in which you painted yourself as a kind of Good Samaritan, have any truth to them is really beside the point.

“The bottom line is that you were once again admittedly trading in class A drugs over a significant period of time.

“I say ‘once again’ because it is no exaggeration to state that you have a dreadful record of previous offending. This is your fourth conviction for trafficking in diamorphine; you were most recently convicted of that offence in 2016.  

“You have numerous convictions for offences of dishonesty, including a six-year sentence of imprisonment imposed in the High Court in 2009 for five offences of theft by housebreaking and an offence of hamesucken and robbery.

“You have other convictions for offences of violence and of disorder. Many of your offences have been aggravated by breaches of bail orders.

“For the offence of trafficking diamorphine in 2016 you were made subject to a drug testing and treatment order. You have flagrantly breached that order and the position of trust in which you were thereby placed by committing the present offence.

“It is clear from all this that you are a person who has no respect whatever for the law and that you are unable or unwilling to control your behaviour.

“You have been given numerous opportunities to address your drug addiction and have received substantial support to enable you to do so. But you have repeatedly squandered these chances.

“I take account of all that has been said on your behalf today, of the contents of the criminal justice social work report, and of the fact that the quantity of diamorphine found in your possession on the day of your arrest was relatively small.

“In the overall scheme of things that is of little significance since you are clearly a hardened and experienced drug dealer and may be expected to arrange matters so that you are found only with relatively small quantities in your possession at any one time.

“In view of the nature and extent of your record I am unable to accept that you are willing seriously to address, even with support, your underlying problems.

“In my considered view, you present a substantial danger to public safety. The trade in class A drugs, in which you have willingly played an active part over many years, is one that brings misery and despair to many communities.

“In all the circumstances, I consider that in addition to punishing you for what you have done, I must impose a sentence which makes plain to anyone who might be tempted to take part at any level in the supplying of controlled drugs that the courts will deal severely with the type of repeated offending demonstrated in your case.

“Parliament has provided that the minimum sentence where the offender has two previous convictions for class A drug trafficking should be a term of imprisonment of seven years. In my view, there are no circumstances in the present case that would make such a sentence unjust. On the contrary, I consider that a sentence of seven years imprisonment would not sufficiently mark the gravity of your repeated offending.

“Had I been imposing sentence after trial I would have imposed a term of nine years imprisonment, six months of which would have been attributable to the bail aggravations. In view of your guilty plea, tendered at an early stage, I shall reduce the term of imprisonment to one of six years. I shall backdate the sentence to 18 April 2017.”