Aladair Finlayson and Cameron Ross both pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine. The first appellant, Finlayson, also pled guilty to supplying cannabis. On the cocaine charge the first appellant was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. The second appellant was sentenced to 23 months imprisonment. 

The first appellant played a significant part in an operation supply cocaine to the Highlands. This took place between January and August 2020. In sentencing him the judge considered that he played a leading role. It was heard in mitigation that he was a user of the drugs and was in debt to others. He was sentenced to 10 years reduced to 9 for the timing of his plea. 

Counsel on behalf of the appellant stated that the judge had not given sufficient weight to the mitigating factors. Counsel stated that he was not a high level organiser and had accepted responsibility. It was also raised that a person at a higher level had received a shorter sentence. 

The second appellant stated that he had been intimated into hiding drugs by another person. However, the judge stated that he had involved himself in the operation deliberately. However, his age and other factors were considered and he was sentenced to 30 months. 

In delivering the opinion of the court, Lord Pentland said: “Contrary to the view formed by the sentencing judge, we were not satisfied that the first appellant’s involvement displayed the features of a person who played a leading role. There was, for instance, no evidence that the first appellant had an expectation of substantial financial gain, that he was using a business as a cover, that he had close links to the original source of the drugs or that he abused a position of trust or responsibility.”

He continued: “Overall, we considered that to say that the first appellant played a leading role in the sense defined by the English guidelines was to overstate the true level of his participation. In the circumstances, we concluded that the sentencing judge erred in finding that the first appellant played a leading role. We considered that the appropriate categorisation under the English guidelines would be that he played a significant role.”

The court quashed the first appellant’s sentence and imposed a sentence of 7 years and 3 months imprisonment. The appeal for the second appellant was refused.