Halkirk courier jailed over cocaine that was only 2% pure
A drug courier stopped in Sutherland was yesterday jailed for 16 months at Dornoch Sheriff Court, despite the powder he was carrying being only 2% cocaine.
Sheriff David Sutherland said anyone involved in class A drugs must recognise the inevitability of a prison sentence.
Anthony Lewis, 42, of 15 Braal Castle, Halkirk, pleaded guilty to having cocaine in his possession on May 21 last year with the intention to supply others.
He was stopped in a layby on the A9 Inverness to Scrabster road at Doll, Brora, after police received a tip-off.
Fiscal Roderick Urquhart said that, when Lewis was approached by police, he said he had a few ounces in the back and they took the car to Brora police station for a thorough search.
A police dog indicated the rear arm rest to be a place of interest and a block of a white substance weighing 8.45oz was located and found to be a substance benzocaine and 2% cocaine.
Mr Urquhart said it was slightly difficult to assess the value, but said: “It could have been sold for between £9,500 and £11,950 but cocaine on the streets in this part of the country is usually 15% pure.
“It was low quality but people buying it wouldn’t know the purity, and it could have been worth thousands of pounds.”
Lewis’s defence solicitor, Terry Gallanagh, said he had a drug expert assess the amount and the value of the cocaine as £375.
Mr Gallanagh said it was bulked out with benzocaine which, taken as a powder, would give the user a numb nose. He said: “Many users of cocaine in north Scotland equate using it as having a numb nose.”
He agreed those buying would not know its low purity level until it was used.
Lewis had no particular financial benefit to selling on the drugs, but had been told he could reduce by half his own drug debt, incurred through his use of cannabis, if he transported the drugs.
Mr Gallanagh added that the stress of the case contributed to Lewis having a heart attack, which sparked major lifestyle changes, including him no longer taking intoxicants.
Sheriff Sutherland said he would have sent Lewis to jail for two years except for his unusual circumstances and his early plea.
BY MARJO HALLOWELL