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Prison terms handed out to criminal pair

| Written by Shetland News

A WOMAN who sold cannabis in Lerwick was imprisoned for two years at the town's sheriff court on Wednesday.

The court heard that 35-year-old Paula Flaherty continued to deal drugs for eight months after police started investigating her. She was in court with her ex partner Simon Cooper, 31, who appeared from custody having admitted assault charges.

A protracted investigation that started on 13 April last year followed intelligence that packages of drugs were being delivered to the couple's house in Nederdale.

Postal packages containing 228.94 grammes of herbal cannabis worth up to £3816 were found during the initial police raid. Flaherty's fingerprints and DNA were "all over" the packages and smaller "dealer" amounts that had been pre-packed inside.

The haul included 21 one-gramme deals, fourteen 14-gramme deals and five seven-gramme deals. There was also a grinder and two scales of the type used for measuring smaller amounts of drugs.

Flaherty was arrested and interviewed but gave no comment answers and refused to give the PIN for her mobile phone which was seized.

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said that Flaherty was a first offender and that the "toxic" relationship between her and Cooper was now over.

An investigation of Flaherty's finances revealed numerous deposits, with £14,665 deposited into one account between 1 and 14 April alone. It also revealed the names of two witnesses who had bought cannabis from her on "an almost daily basis."

Her phone also contained a text conversation with an unidentified man whom she told she could supply drugs to.

Another raid that saw police break into the empty house yielded a further 57.32 grammes of the drug, worth £955, contained in postal packages behind the door.

On 31 October Cooper attacked two police officers who had come to detain Flaherty.

The court heard that Cooper became angry and accused the police of harassing them. The "powerfully built individual" managed to pull free of the officers before charging down the stairs at them.

He picked one of them up in a "dump tackle" and slammed him face down on the floor. Cooper then jumped on his back and started to choke him before the other officer got Cooper in a headlock.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said: "It was difficult to convey how desperate this situation was the two officers found themselves in."

By the time back up arrived the two police had managed to "subdue" Cooper.

In court, Cooper apologised personally for abusing the sheriff and procurator fiscal during his last court visit – a gesture that was accepted by Sheriff Ian Cruickshank.

Sentencing the pair, the sheriff said that whatever the pressures on her, Flaherty had chosen to become involved in the supply of cannabis. Making matters worse was the quantity involved and the fact she had continued dealing drugs after the police had become involved.

Cooper had a number of analogous convictions for violence. His vicious actions could have caused serious injury to the police, said the sheriff.

He sentenced Flaherty to two years imprisonment and Cooper to 16 months for his attack on police officers. Cooper was imprisoned for a further six months for assaulting Flaherty during a night out on 26 July when he seized hold of her and tried to get her into a taxi.

He had been remanded in custody for that offence since 30 July and pleaded guilty while in custody.

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