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Former addict claims he was forced to steal

A FORMER heroin addict in Shetland who claimed he was forced to break into two buildings and steal cash and goods by Liverpool drug dealers was remanded in custody for a month at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.

The court was told that in February, 20 year old Scott Anderson, of Kirkabister, Bressay, was abducted by two men to whom he owed £350.

Anderson’s defence agent Tommy Allan said the men assaulted him with a hammer before forcing him to steal a car and break into an office in Lerwick and a shop in Scalloway.

Anderson admitted breaking into the Lifeskills Centre, at 11 Market Street, Lerwick, on 16 February and stealing a laptop computer, money and a set of keys.

He also pled guilty to taking a driving away a car from Lerwick’s South Road on the same day and smashing a £500 plate glass window to break into Scalloway Meat Company, on Main Street, Scalloway in the early hours of the following morning, from which he stole scratch cards, a display unit, four bottles of spirits and two charity collection boxes, with a total value of around £1,100.

He was arrested after a nearby resident in Scalloway was woken by banging and an alarm, and called the police. They surrounded the shop, but apprehended Anderson as he wandered towards them from down the road with blood and broken glass on his clothes.

Mr Allan said his client had been clear of his heroin addiction when he disembarked the Bressay ferry in Lerwick that day to be confronted by the two men who had come off a fishing boat berthed in the harbour.

“They cornered him, took him to a building nearby where they couldn’t be seen by passers by and they asked him for money…he had owed them for about a year. It was money for drugs.

“He says that while they had him there they hit him in the leg with a hammer. He has shown me some injuries to his knee. He says that one of them had a knife.”

Mr Allan said they ordered a taxi and went to various places, but Anderson was too scared to make a run for it or cry for help.

During the day he had made a number of “desperate phone calls” to his mother asking for money.

“She is no stranger to receiving calls asking for money, but she was of the view there was something different about this, that the calls were more desperate and more frequent than usual, but she wasn’t prepared to give him money which she believed was for drugs.”

He had then been forced to stand outside the Lifeskills Centre while the stolen goods were passed out to him and to go into the Scalloway shop and hand out the stolen items to the waiting men.

However procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie refused to accept this version of events saying that it contradicted what Anderson had told the police after his arrest.

Mr Mackenzie said that Anderson had been in the Lifeskills Centre earlier in the day, had taken the car from someone he knew and had used the ATM machine in the Scalloway Meat Company at 2am to see if he had money in his account, which was recorded on CCTV.

“He was effectively caught red handed in the act. The keys from the centre were found on him, parked outside the shop was the stolen car and police were attracted to it because it contained items from the shop,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“He offered by way of explanation that he had been told to carry out these acts by Liverpudlian drug dealers who had threatened him…but there was no sign of anyone else. He was unable to give any details about these Liverpudlian drug dealers at all.”

Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentence for one month until 21 April when Anderson will try to prove that he was coerced into committing the crimes. He was remanded to Aberdeen prison, where he has been since 18 February.