HMA v Christopher Walter Bruce and Colin Stewart

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (29 January 2020) Lord Arthurson sentenced Christopher Walter Bruce and Colin Stewart after they were convicted of drug trafficking offences.

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

“Christopher Walter Bruce and Colin Stewart, the jury has today convicted each of you of extremely serious drug trafficking offences.

You Mr Bruce have been convicted of being concerned in the supply of the class A controlled drug diamorphine, with a maximum potential street value of £162,500; the class B controlled drug amphetamine, with a maximum potential value of £100,000; the class B controlled drug cannabis, with a maximum potential value of £60,000; and the class B controlled drug cannabis resin, with a maximum potential value of £177,000, all as focussed in three separate charges libelling contraventions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 section 4(3)(b).  Each of these charges contains an aggravation under section 29 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 in respect of a connection with serious organised crime.  You have also been convicted today of a further charge libelling a contravention of section 30(1)(b) of the said 2010 Act in respect of the direction by you of others to commit an offence aggravated by a connection with serious organised crime.

You have accrued to date 15 groups of previous convictions and served 5 custodial sentences, most recently and significantly a sentence of 4 years imprisonment imposed at the High Court in 2013 for an analogous drug trafficking offence under the 1971 Act involving the class A controlled drug cocaine, which offence was aggravated by a connection with serious organised crime.

You Mr Stewart have been convicted by the jury today, under a significant restriction by the jury of the period libelled, of being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin with a maximum potential value of £120,000, in terms of a single charge libelling a contravention of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 section 4(3)(b), which charge contains an aggravation under section 29 of the 2010 Act in respect of a connection with serious organised crime.  You have also been convicted of a further charge libelling a contravention of section 28(1) of the 2010 Act in respect of your involvement, by way of agreement with Mr Bruce, in serious organised crime, albeit for a restricted period of time.

You have accrued to date 43 groups of previous convictions and have served 11 custodial sentences, including convictions for crimes of violence on indictment, for assault to severe injury in the sheriff court in 2005, and for assault and robbery while on bail in the High Court in 2010.  You are currently serving a sentence of 3 years and 11 months imprisonment which was imposed in January 2019 on indictment in the sheriff court for an analogous drug trafficking offence under the 1971 Act involving cocaine.

I have listened with care to the submissions in mitigation which have been advanced on your behalf today by your respective counsel.  I note in particular the information before me about your personal circumstances and propose to take all of these submissions into account in the sentencing exercise which now follows your conviction.

Drug trafficking of the nature and scale of your offending in this case is an abhorrent and corrosive criminal trade which does lasting damage to individuals and to our communities.  The criminal conduct which you were engaged in represents on any view a very significant drug trafficking operation, which in this case was aggravated by its connection with serious organised crime.  In addition, the evidence led by the Crown at your trial made it plain that in particular you Mr Bruce played a significant role within the crime group at the centre of this case. In all of these circumstances you will well appreciate that only very substantial custodial sentences are appropriate.

I turn now to disposal on this indictment.

Mr Bruce, in the whole circumstances you will serve, in respect of charges 1, 2 and 3, on an in cumulo basis, a sentence of 12 years imprisonment.  In respect of charge 4 you will serve a concurrent sentence of 12 years imprisonment.  These sentences will be backdated to 2 April, 2019, being the date of your initial remand in custody in this case.

Mr Stewart, in the whole circumstances you will serve, in respect of charges 6 and 7, concurrent sentences of 6 years imprisonment.  These periods of imprisonment in your case will commence on the expiry of the sentence which you are currently serving.

Finally, I propose to allow the applications made by the Crown under section 22A of the Serious Crime Act 2007 in respect of each of you to be received, appoint intimation of these upon you, and appoint a hearing thereon at Glasgow High Court on 26 February 2020 at 9.30am in order to allow your counsel to consider the terms thereof.”