Suspicious drug traffickers were caught with heroin worth £140,000 in Shetland after telling police they had come to visit girlfriends in Lerwick – despite driving away from the town.
Officers recovered a kilo of the Class A drug along with a quantity of a substance commonly used to cut the narcotic, which one of the men claimed was an appetite suppressant.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Jabran Ali and William Richardson, who were travelling with Allan Stewart, had aroused suspicion even before they arrived in the islands.
They travelled by ferry from Aberdeen arriving in Lerwick on Hogmanay, but had come to the attention of staff on the boat.
Advocate depute David Taylor said police found their car at the village of Voe and stopped the Volkswagen Passat at the side of the road.
He said: “The accused Jabran Ali was driving the car. When the officers spoke with him he appeared nervous and his hands were shaking.”
He added that when police then turned to speak to Richardson and Stewart they also seemed nervous.
“Ali and Richardson said that they were visiting girlfriends who live in Lerwick. The police were suspicious of this, as the accused had driven 18 miles in the opposite direction to Lerwick” Taylor said, adding they could not provide the girlfriends’ full names or addresses.
The men were then asked to provide their names, which were found not to match those used on ferry travel documents seen in the car.
All three were detained and in the boot of the car officers found a holdall belonging to Richardson, which contained a bag of white powder.
Richardson claimed it was a protein powder, but analysis revealed it was a mixture of caffeine and paracetamol which is commonly used to bulk out heroin.
Another holdall was found inside the car, which held thermos flasks containing four packages of heroin totaling just over a kilo.
Mr Taylor said the kilo of heroin could be bought wholesale for about £25,000 but could be worth £140,000 in street deals.
Ali, aged 25, a shop assistant, of Auchenbothie Crescent, Robroyston, and 31 year old self-employed joiner Richardson, of Parkbrae Way, Maryhill, Glasgow, both admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin on 31 December last year at Voe while acting with Stewart, when they appeared in court on Wednesday.
The court heard that Ali and Richardson have previous convictions for a drug offence.
The Crown accepted Ali’s not guilty plea to a charge of possessing an offensive weapon, a knuckle duster.
Stewart, aged 33, of Langa Grove, Maryhill, in Glasgow, was jailed for three years and eight months earlier this year after previously admitting being concerned in the supply of the heroin on Shetland.
The court heard that all three had booked their ferry travel under assumed names and Ali had bought the tickets for £461 in cash.
Lord Uist told Ali and Richardson that as neither had previously served a custodial sentence he had to get background reports on the pair before sentencing.
The judge deferred sentence on them until next month and remanded them in custody.