HMA v Yvonne Noble

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, 21 August 2018, Sheriff Frank Crowe sentenced Yvonne McConnell to three years’ imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of heroin.

On sentencing, Sheriff Crowe made the following statement in court: 

“Yvonne McConnell, you were found guilty unanimously by a jury on 17 July 2018 after a 5 day trial for being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug diamorphine over a two-year period until 20 June last year when your house was searched by the police.

“Your co-accused and step father Douglas John Arthur was found guilty by a majority verdict at the same time and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment as he had been recalled from life licence by the Parole Board last July after appearing in court for this offence.

As I understand matters Douglas Arthur admitted at trial at the High Court in Jedburgh in March 1972 to the murder of a female acquaintance at her house and was sentenced to life imprisonment on 20 June 1972.

“You by comparison had no convictions prior to this offence and had a good work record including being a local authority cleaner for 14 years until this matter came to light.

It was alleged that at your home in Glendinning Terrace, Galashiels you sold diamorphine to callers who attended your house, seven days a week, sometimes at all hours of the day.

“Drugs were found stored nearby at your co-accused's home in the same street which had a maximum street value in the region of £15,000 and other quantities of drugs and cutting agents were found in that house, suggestive of the fact that wholesale quantities of diamorphine were cut into smaller amounts to sell to users and during this operation the drug was bulked up with cutting agents to maximise profit.

“What was significant about this case was that seven of your neighbours gave evidence describing the brief time callers stayed at your house when visiting or the brief exchanges you had with them in your garden where you sat at a bench in the open.

“At various times of the day you were seen visiting Mr Arthur's house and returned a short time later with a bulging purse from which could be seen small plastic packages protruding of the type used to supply addicts with illicit drugs.

“Other evidence showed that a named person attended at your house by car several times a day to make collections. A former drug addict gave evidence confirming you had sold him diamorphine.

“Against that evidence you were emphatic in your denials and I see this position has been maintained when interviewed by social workers for the background sentencing report I requested for today.

“You and Mr Arthur both incriminated your late son Glenn Noble, who was arrested at the same time in June of last year but sadly died earlier this year of drug problems; you have no such problems yourself.

“Your neighbours spoke of the depressing effect this trade had on the street in which you live and the surrounding area.

“The jury also saw a video recording made by police of their interview of the late Glenn Noble at the time of his arrest. He was clearly under the influence of substances and seemed so addicted by them he tried to snatch and consume drugs shown to him by police which they had recovered from him when your home was searched.

“It appeared that Glenn had been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after tours in Afghanistan and after leaving the army a drink problem soon turned to a drug problem. Given the state Mr Noble was in when interviewed by police he appeared incapable of operating a drug supply operation as it seemed likely he would consume most of the product.

“The evidence disclosed suggested more sinister circumstances and it is reasonable to conclude that around about the time of the offence Glenn Noble became hopelessly addicted to heroin and other similar drugs.

“The cost of these drugs quickly exceeds the income the addict has and resort has to be made to theft, dealing, holding drugs for others or running up drug debts.

“Your circumstances revealed no sign of wealth consistent with the evidence of trafficking given by your neighbours and the quantity of drugs recovered at Mr Arthur's ‘safe house’.

“Surely no one would take the risks you did to sell openly illegal drugs from their home at no benefit to themselves?

“The obvious answer if that you became involved in dealing diamorphine and accounting for the money received to a third party would help your son and ensure he had a regular supply.

“I accept what has been said about your previous good record and the assistance you provide to you partner and another son, both of whom have health difficulties.

“Mr Arthur's position was that he knew nothing about the drugs found in his home. This contention was disbelieved by the jury. There was evidence of you making regular visits to his home and having a key to access the premises.

“In any event, the evidence revealed that you played the most prominent role in the drugs supply operation in Glendinning Terrace by keeping your house supplied with sufficient drugs for a steady stream of customers, but holding limited quantities in your home at any one time should your house be searched by the police.

“You collected drugs regularly from Mr Arthur's home and handed over the proceeds of sale on an equally regular basis to another who does not seem to have faced court proceedings.

“Your activities had a significantly detrimental effect upon the community in which you lived over a two-year period, such as to cause a number of your neighbours to provide separate but compelling testimonies as to your activities.

“A prison sentence is always likely at this level of criminal conduct and in your case I can see no alternative even as a first offender. You will be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment from today.”