Jail for drugs courier caught with cocaine worth £85,000

Paisley Sheriff Court
Paisley Sheriff Court

A drug courier from Milngavie who was caught ferrying a haul of cocaine worth £85,000 across Scotland has been jailed.

Andrew Hogarth, of Craigash Quadrant, was caught passing a package to another drug courier at Silverburn shopping centre last May.

The 30-year-old handed a package to Graeme Mclean, from Ayr, while undercover police officers tailing the Milngavie man looked on.

It’s believed Mclean (26) was due to take the drugs down the M77 to his home town but he was stopped after he’d taken the package from Hogarth and was taken in to custody by police.

Mclean and former accounting student Hogarth (30) pleaded guilty to the supply of controlled drugs at an earlier Paisley Sheriff Court hearing.

At the time, Procurator Fiscal Depute Alan Parfery said they came to the attention of police after Hogarth, said to have a £200-a-day cocaine addiction, was put under surveillance.

And, during the “intelligence-led operation”, he and Mclean were caught at a drugs handover at the shopping centre on May 31, 2016.

The prosecutor explained: “At 5.40pm the accused Hogarth was observed driving a white Renault into Silverburn car park.

“There were text messages between the accused arranging to meet up at a particular section of the car park.

“The first accused [Mclean] arrived in a blue Land Rover, in the passenger seat.

“The Renault drove off and was followed by the Land Rover, they came to a stop close by.”

Mclean then left the Land Rover and collected a parcel from Hogarth before returning to the Land Rover and leaving the car park.

The Land Rover was later stopped on the M77, near Newton Mearns, and, when the door was opened, the drugs fell out on to the road.

Mr Parfery explained that it was later found to contain 500g of cocaine with a purity of 82 per cent.

Police Scotland said it had a cash value of £85,000 if it was subdivided into ‘street-level deals’.

Sentence was deferred for background reports and both men were remanded in custody before returning to the dock this week.

Solicitor Brian Lanaghan, representing Hogarth, of Milngavie, had become a drug courier because of debt he’d racked up.

He explained: “In his video taped police interview he was asked if he had a drug habit and he confirmed he was abusing cocaine.

“When asked how much, he said, ‘as much as I can get’.

“In the run up to this offence he was using about 2g a day – that is £150 to £200.

“Your Lordship can see, very quickly, his debt was increasing and by that stage he was unemployed and foolishly he agreed to become involved in this.

“He is now drug-free for the first time in 10 years.”

The lawyer added that Hogarth had spent time in prison taking courses and planned to enrol in others, for jailed prisoners, once sentenced.

Sheriff David Pender added: “Given the significant value of the drugs, in my view the appropriate sentence would be one of four years imprisonment, reduced to 32 months.”

The sentences were reduced because both men admitted their guilty and were backdated to February, when they were both remanded in custody.