HMA v Alan Robert Boulter & James Elder

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (18 June 2020) Lord Fairley sentenced Alan Robert Boulter to 5 years and 4 months imprisonment and James Elder to 2 years imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

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

“Alan Robert Boulter, you have pled guilty to being concerned in the supplying of cocaine, a Class A controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971.

When you were detained by police officers on 14 June 2019, you were found to be in possession of two mobile phones, £2,000 in cash and the keys to a flat in Westfield Court in Edinburgh. Within that flat, police subsequently found scales contaminated with cocaine, freezer bags and quantities of cocaine variously packaged in bags, a tub, and a block wrapped in brown tape. Earlier that same day, police had observed you entering a vehicle and passing a carrier bag to James Elder. That bag was also found to contain cocaine. The total weight of cocaine recovered by the police from the flat and from the carrier bag was 1.732kg with a potential street value of over £200,000. 

You have an extensive criminal record dating back to 2002. Many of your convictions have involved thefts of motor vehicles and offences under the Road Traffic Act, 1988 including driving with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit. You have also, however, been convicted of racially aggravated harassment, offences of dishonesty and offences of violence including assault and assault to injury. Most significantly for present purposes, you have three previous convictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971, the most recent of which was in 2017 and which was also for being concerned in the supplying of cocaine. Whilst I note that the frequency of your offending has declined in recent years, the recency of the 2017 conviction for a directly analogous crime is something that I regard as significant.  

It is clear that abuse of cocaine had become a very significant feature of your life in the period leading up to your arrest on this matter. I have taken account of everything set out in the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and also what has been said on your behalf today by your legal representative. In particular, I take fully into account what has been said about your personal, family and employment backgrounds and about your expressions of insight and remorse.

You will appreciate, however, that the gravity of the charge to which you have pled guilty and the quantity of the Class A drug involved leave me with no alternative but to impose a substantial sentence of imprisonment. This court has repeatedly emphasised the misery caused by those who become concerned in the supplying of Class A drugs, particularly in such large quantities. It is a crime with multiple victims and with significant and far-reaching consequences for society as a whole.

Had you been convicted after trial I would have imposed a sentence of 8 years imprisonment. In view of the timing of your plea of guilty, I shall restrict that sentence by one third to a period of imprisonment of 5 years and 4 months.

Since you have been on bail since your first appearance on Petition on 17 June of last year, that sentence will run from today.

James Elder, you appear before this court as a first offender. You have pled guilty to being concerned in the supplying of cocaine with a total weight of 66 grams and a potential street value of around £7,480.

Again, it is clear from what has been said on your behalf that cocaine has been a dominant feature in your life for several years. Having cost you your job, your addiction to the drug then led you into dealing to others as a means of supporting your own dependency. You are a stark illustration of the spiral of misery and hardship caused by the illegal supplying of and resultant addiction to cocaine. You nevertheless chose to perpetuate that cycle of misery and hardship by dealing cocaine to others. 

I take full account of everything that has been said on your behalf today and I have also noted everything that is recorded in your Criminal Justice Social Work Report. I give due weight to the fact that had you not appeared on the same Indictment as Mr Boulter you would almost certainly have been prosecuted in the Sheriff Court, albeit still on Indictment.  

The quantity of cocaine with which you were involved was still significant, as was your personal involvement in the supplying of it to others, and I take the view that a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal. Had you been found guilty after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment of 3 years. In view of the timing of your plea, I shall restrict that sentence by one third to a period of 2 years.

As you have been on bail since your first appearance on Petition on 11 July of last year, that sentence will run from today.”