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Ex addict jailed after being forced to steal

A FORMER drug addict from Shetland was jailed for 20 months at Lerwick Sheriff Court after saying he had been forced to break into a shop and an office and to steal a car by Liverpool drug dealers threatening to stab him.

The court heard on Thursday how 21 year old Scott Anderson, of Kirkabister, Bressay, had been abducted by two men from Liverpool to whom he owed £350.

After being hit on the knee with a hammer, Anderson claimed he had been forced to help break into the Life Skills Centre, on Lerwick’s Market Street, and steal a laptop computer, cash and a set of keys on 16 February.

That evening he stole a car from outside a house on Lerwick’s South Road and drove to Scalloway with one of the men who forced him to break into the Scalloway Meat Company, on Main Street, where he stole scratch cards, a display unit, four bottles of spirits and two charity collection boxes, worth a total of around £1,100.

Anderson has been on remand since 18 February and pled guilty to the offences in March, but Sheriff Graeme Napier demanded an extra hearing on Thursday to hear evidence about the alleged abduction as it contradicted what he told the police after his arrest.

The court heard that the former drug addict had built up debts to a Liverpool dealer. This man was on board a fishing boat in Lerwick harbour with a friend when he spotted Anderson getting off the ferry from Bressay on his way to collect his methadone prescription.

He claimed the dealer and his friend demanded the money and frogmarched him to the nearby fish market where they searched his pockets. One of them hit him hard on the knee with a hammer and warned him to have the money that night before they left Shetland by fishing boat.

“They said I would be badly beaten up and other members of my family would get hurt as well,” Anderson said from the witness box.

The young man spent the rest of the day with the dealers, making several frantic calls to his mother asking for help to pay off his debt.

The court also heard from his mother Barbara Anderson, who said he first phoned at around 10am and that the calls had become increasingly desperate as the day wore on, until the final call came at 1am the following morning.

Mrs Anderson said: “In the final phone call he told me that he was in a car with someone who was threatening him with a knife and if we didn’t send money online into his account then this person was going to stab him and he said if we didn’t send money at that stage he would have to do something really bad.”

Mrs Anderson said her son had often demanded money from her, but there was greater “urgency and desperation” in his voice on this occasion.

She said that she and her husband had spent the past three years doing all they could to help their son with his addiction problems and had reached the point where no matter what the situation, they would not give him any money.

“It was very, very, very hard for us to say no when he asked for money to help him,” she told the court.

“I don’t know if you can imagine being a parent being told that your child is being threatened with a knife and having to refuse what he asking to fix it.

“If I had been at the hospital the following morning Scott having been stabbed, well I was taking a chance on that.”

Mrs Anderson could not explain why she had not called the police, saying the idea had not occurred to her until it was suggested at Thursday’s hearing.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said that he accepted Anderson was being threatened over an unpaid drug debt, but not that his life was “under an immediate threat”.

He jailed him for 14 months for the two break ins and stealing the car, and a further six months for a previous break in on 28 March last year when he stole cigarettes, tobacco, bottles of spirits and charity boxes from Brucefield Stores, on Lerwick’s Thorfin Street.