HMA v KEVIN COULTER

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Woolman sentenced Kevin Coulter to 3 years and four months in prison after he pled guilty to supplying diamorphine, a Class A drug, at HM Prison Addiewell, West Lothian between 21 July 2010 and 26 July 2010.

On sentencing Lord Woolman made the following statement in court:

“On 26 July 2010, you were employed as a prison officer at HMP Addiewell. The prison authorities received intelligence that you had been bringing drugs into the prison. You initially denied the offence, but then made certain admissions.

You were found to have 4 wraps of heroin in your possession at 24% purity, weighing a total of 107g.  I was informed that the black market values for drugs in prison are two to three times street values. The heroin had a maximum value within the prison of between £6,400 and £32,100. The exact value depended on the extent to which the drug was sub-divided and adulterated.

At interview, you admitted that you had delivered heroin to an inmate 4 days earlier. You told the police that you had only begun supplying drugs after a prisoner made threats against your family. However, you also stated that you had received money from the person who supplied you and £750 cash was found in the glove box of your car.

The commission of this offence involved the breach of an important position of trust. You did the very thing that you were being employed to detect and prevent. The use of drugs within prisons is a very real problem. That a prison officer should be the conduit for supply is a matter of great concern. You should have immediately reported the threats to your employers and to the police.

Having considered the alternatives, in my view only a custodial sentence is appropriate. It is in the public interest that those involved in the supply of class A drugs must expect to go to prison.

I have carefully considered everything that has been said on your behalf and the favourable terms of the Social Enquiry Report. In particular, I take account of the following factors:

• That you come before the court as a first offender
• That you have always been in gainful employment
• That you became involved in drug supply because of the threats made    against your family
• That you have expressed genuine remorse
• That you have been assessed as being of low risk of re-offending
• That you admitted your guilt from the outset

However, I must principally have regard to the seriousness of the offence. The supply of Class A drugs to a serving prisoner is a most serious offence. If you had been convicted after trial, I would have sentenced you to a period of 5 years imprisonment. As you pled guilty by means of a section 76 notice, I shall grant a discount of one third. Accordingly, I sentence you to a period of 3 years and 4 months’ imprisonment starting from today’s date”.