Ecstasy dealer’s sentence reduced on appeal following reference by SCCRC

A man who was sentenced to 28 months detention after being convicted of being concerned in the supply of ecstasy has had his sentence reduced on appeal following a reference to the High Court of Justiciary Appeal Court by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The appeal judges held that the sentence imposed was “excessive”, having regard to the fact that his personal circumstances at the time of sentencing were “much improved” from the time of the offence, and accordingly substituted a custodial term of 12 months.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lord Drummond Young and Lord Malcolm, heard that the appellant Conor McAteer was convicted of being concerned in the supply of the drugs over a period of three-and-a-half months, and a co-accused was convicted of a similar offence over a five-week period.

The appellant was found in possession of tablets worth £640 and cash of £425, while the co-accused was in possession of tablets worth £230 and cash of £680, of which £380 was attributed to drug dealing.

The appellant, who was 20 at the time of the offences, had a conviction for possession of an offensive weapon for which he had been admonished in 2010 whereas the co-accused, who was 18, was a first offender.

The sheriff imposed a sentence upon the appellant of 28 months and a sentence on the co-accused of 20 months reduced from 21 months.

The appellant’s appeal did not pass the sift but the appeal for the co-accused proceeded and his sentence was reduced on appeal from a starting point of nine months to eight months.

The basis for the success of the co-accused’s appeal was that there had been “substantial mitigation” in that during the lengthy period between the commission of the offence and sentencing the co-accused had improved his life and emerged as a “mature adult with good prospects”, but the appeal judges observed that “exactly the same” applied in relation to the appellant and that the “substantial disparity” between the sentences was “not justified”.

Delivering the opinion of the court, the Lord Justice Clerk said: “The position of this young man at the time of sentencing was much improved from his situation at the time of commission of the offence: he had addressed his addiction problems and had attended college where he had taken out an HND in quantity surveying resulting in a conditional offer of a place at university which he would start in the third year of that course.

“He had supported himself with part-time jobs since the offence, including working in a bank and at the time of sentencing was working as an assistant manager in an electronic cigarette shop. Since his sentence the appellant has continued to study in prison to advance his prospects. He has now served eight months of the sentence imposed.

“In the circumstances therefore, the court considers that the sentence imposed on him was excessive and we will substitute for that sentence a sentence of 12 months detention.”

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