HMA v Danielle Finlay and Others

Lord Boyd of Duncansby sentenced six people to imprisonment at the High Court in Glasgow today (7 October 2019) after the offenders plead guilty to charges relating to drug offences.

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

“The trafficking in class A drugs is a vile crime. It is fuelled by the addiction which it creates. It attracts serious organised crime, and criminals who treat it as a business and make large profits. In doing so they bring misery on its addicts and in the communities where such drugs take hold. You Kieran Adams and Stephen Kelly saw a business opportunity in the Inverness and Moray area which you were determined to exploit. You did so over a 3 month period between November 2018 and February 2019. The rest of you were foot soldiers, content for one reason or another, to do their bidding.

This was a significant operation. In the course of the police investigation some 1.8 kilos of cocaine, 4.5 kilos of diamorphine and over 150,000 Etizolam pills, a class C drug, were recovered. By my reckoning the total potential value of these drugs was some £600,000.

All of the charges to which each of you has pleaded guilty include either the aggravation of being connected with serious organised crime or directing such crime. It is quite apparent that this was a sophisticated and organised criminal conspiracy and each of you played a part to a greater or lesser extent. Where the aggravation is libelled I do not intend to increase the sentences under section 30 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 as I will take the extent of your involvement in the organisation into account when I sentence you on the substantive charge.

In determining the level of sentence I have had regard where appropriate to the Definitive Guideline on Drugs Offences issued by the Sentencing Council of England and Wales.

Donald Dunbar

You are a 61 year old man with no previous convictions. On 12 December last year you were stopped in a car outside Stirling apparently on your way to Morayshire. In the car you had a kilo of diamorphine and half a kilo of cocaine. The cocaine was of high purity – 80%. Potentially the value of the drugs was over £110,000.

The car itself had been adapted with a concealed void in the floor. Access was gained to it through a fob and USB stick. Scales contaminated with traces of both diamorphine and cocaine were found in a rucksack. Your counsel has told me that it belonged to you.

In the social work report you describe yourself as an associate of Kieran Adams and he introduced you to Stephen Kelly. You agreed to act as a courier for money.

I have listened carefully to all that has been said on your behalf. I take into account the fact that you are a first offender. I note that you have a long standing heroin addiction though you are presently prescribed methadone and appear to be stable on this.

On charge 6, had you been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of 3 years, on charge 7, 4 years. In view of the plea I shall discount the sentences to 2 years 3 months and 3 years respectively. The sentences shall be concurrent and backdated to 26 August 2019.

Kieran Adams

Over a period of nearly 3 months you and Stephen Kelly directed others in the commission of serious crime, namely the supply of class A drugs to the north of Scotland.

You have a criminal record all at summary level but it includes 6 convictions for possession of offensive weapons namely a machete and a knife. It is clear from the text message to Kenneth Mackenzie that in directing others you were prepared to use abusive language.

Your motivation was purely financial gain. You maintained a property in the Inverness area which you used as a base from which to direct others in the commission of offences. There was significant recovery of class C drugs, money and drugs paraphernalia from the property.

I take into account all that has been said on your behalf. I note that what started as a way of making some short term cash turned into a business opportunity but that you now regret your actions. 

I shall make a Serious Organised Crime Prevention Order in the terms set out in the schedule to the Crown’s application for a period of three years following your release from prison.

Had you been convicted after trial I would have imposed a sentence of 10 years imprisonment. In view of the plea, I shall discount it to 7 years 6 months. The sentence will be backdated to 26 August 2019.

Kenneth Mackenzie

 You are 25 years old. You have a history of minor offending but nothing analogous to the offences to which you have pleaded guilty in this indictment.

On 20 November 2018 you were stopped at Inverness train station carrying a holdall. In it was a kilo of diamorphine and a 120g of high purity cocaine. The potential value was over £75,000. The messages on your mobile phone show that you were being directed by your co-accused Kieran Adams.

You convinced the social worker that you took responsibility for your actions and you regretted them. Drug misuse has also played a part in this offence; you were apparently motivated by the desire to clear some drug debts.

You were able to stay away from crime between 2011 to the present offence. During that time you had a steady relationship, you became a father and you were in employment. These are all positive features. Nevertheless this is a serious offence which can only result in a term of imprisonment.

Had you been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of 3 years imprisonment on charge 2, and 4 years on charge 3. In view of the plea I shall discount the sentences to 2 years 3 months, and 3 years respectively. These sentences shall be concurrent and backdated to 26 August 2019.

Sean Gordon

You are 28 years old. You have a number of previous convictions but all at summary level. Two of them are minor convictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act involving cannabis.

On 5 February this year you were stopped while driving a car towards Inverness on the A9 near Tomatin. Hidden in the car was 530 g of cocaine and nearly 700 g of diamorphine. The total potential value is just short of £100,000. There was also 850g of caffeine and paracetamol a known adulterant for diamorphine.

You also have a problem with the misuse of cocaine. It appears you became involved in order to get money to finance your habit. I take into account everything said on your behalf by your counsel. I note your commitment to getting an education while in prison. If that is pursued then on your release you may be able to turn away from the path that you are presently on.

On charges 13, had you been convicted after trial I would have imposed a sentence of 3 years imprisonment – on charge 14, 4 years. In view of the plea I shall discount the sentence to 2 years 3 months and 3 years imprisonment respectively. The sentences shall be concurrent and backdated to 26 August 2019.

Stephen Kelly

You were a partner with Kieran Adams in this operation directing others in the supply of class A drugs. You told the social worker that initially you became involved in this operation in order to pay drug debts incurred by your younger brother but admit that financial gain became a significant factor. Oddly, given your brother’s involvement in drugs, you also said that you were not previously aware of the wider impact of drug misuse. However you have now begun to reflect on the consequences of your actions for yourself and your family, particularly your son.

You have a minor record of offending which includes possession of cannabis resin. You have not previously served a sentence of imprisonment.

There are a number of positive features in the social work report. In particular I note that you have completed a foundation course for the Open University and you hope to undertake a degree course. That is to your credit and shows that you have the ability to make a life for yourself outside prison.

I shall make a Serious Organised Crime Prevention Order in the terms set out in the schedule to the Crown’s application for a period of three years following your release from prison.

In sentencing you I see no reason to distinguish you from Kieran Adams. Accordingly had you been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of 10 years imprisonment. In view of the plea I shall discount it to one of 7 years 6 months. The sentence will be backdated to 11 March 2019.

Karen Reynolds

You are 51 years old. You have a minor record of offending but no analogous convictions.

On 7 March this year police entered your flat with a warrant. You said to them that you thought you knew what this was about. “The stuff you are looking for is under the bed. I think it’s cannabis.” Police found a bag containing over 100.000 pills of Etizolam, a class C drug, with a potential to realise over £100,000. Police also found 23g of cocaine with a potential value of £2,300. The Crown accept that your involvement was restricted to allowing your flat to be used by your co-accused Kelly and Adams to store the drugs recovered there.

I recognise that like the others you appear to have been used by your co-accused, Adams and Kelly. I also accept that your involvement is towards the lower end of the scale. I also take into account what has been said on your behalf by Ms Anderson and your background as reflected in the social work report.

Your counsel has suggested that I impose a community payback order. There are however particular issues which are raised by the social worker and which do require to be addressed. Although you have received help in the past I have no way of knowing what your present situation is and whether you have a commitment to changing your life.

The value of the drugs involved is considerable and without evidence of that nature I consider that I have no option but to impose a custodial sentence. Nevertheless I can limit the time in custody given your particular circumstances and the degree of involvement.

On charge 22 had you been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of 16 months imprisonment. On charge 23 the sentence would have been 12 months imprisonment. In view of the plea I shall discount the sentence to 12 months and 9 months respectively. These sentences shall be served concurrently and backdated to 26 August 2019.

Sentencing on the first accused Danielle Finlay was deferred to 13 December 2019 at the High Court in Edinburgh.”

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