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APPEALS AGAINST SENTENCE BY ALEXANDER CONNELLY AND GARY CORKINDALE AGAINST HER MAJESTY'S ADVOCATE


Submitted: 30 May 2017

Web Blue HCJ

APPEAL COURT, HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY

[2017] HCJAC 42

HCA/2017/000206/XC & HCA/2017/000207/XC

 

Lady Paton

Lord Glennie

 

OPINION OF THE COURT

delivered by LADY PATON

in

APPEALS AGAINST SENTENCE

by

ALEXANDER CONNELLY AND

GARY CORKINDALE

Appellants

against

HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE

Respondent

Appellant (Connelly):  Moir;  John Pryde & Co SSC (for Fleming & Reid, Glasgow)

Appellant (Corkindale):  Mackintosh, Faculty Services Limited

Respondent:  M Hughes AD;  Crown Agent

30 May 2017

[1]        In both appeals, we have had regard to the English Sentencing Guidelines for Controlled Drugs but, as has been said on a number of occasions, they are not to be applied mechanically.  We deal with Mr Connelly’s case first.

[2]        We agree with the sentencing judge’s observations about the misery which drug addiction causes, and the fact that the appellant was perpetuating that problem by being concerned in the supply of diazepam to others.

[3]        We accept that the value of the drugs was considerable (the maximum value being £370,440) and that the appellant was involved in what appeared to be a well-organised operation.  However, in our view, insufficient weight has been given to certain factors.  In particular, the appellant’s previous convictions were road traffic offences and an attempt to pervert the course of justice (2005), nothing drug-related.  Apart from these matters and the current case, the appellant had not been in trouble before, and had been in employment as an area manager for a pub chain.

[4]        At page 3 of the Social Work Report, there is an indication that the appellant appreciates the serious and detrimental effect of illegal drugs.  At page 5 of the report, it is stated that the appellant has stopped using cannabis (the cause of his current offending) and is presently not using illegal drugs.  He has been assessed as at minimal risk of reoffending.

[5]        In all the circumstances, we consider that a starting point of 5 years was appropriate to mark the gravity of the offence.  Applying the same one fifth discount results in a sentence of 4 years.  Accordingly, we shall quash the sentence of 6 years 4 months and substitute therefor a sentence of 4 years.

[6]        In our view, Mr Corkindale’s case is different.  First, he has a significant previous conviction in 2012, for being concerned in the supply of amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis resin.  He was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.  Secondly, he has pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of diazepam worth  £370, 440, amphetamine worth approximately £12,490 and herbal cannabis worth anything from £8,000 to £19,820.  These are very considerable figures.  Thirdly, Mr Corkindale’s Peugeot car was found to contain tick lists, phones, bags and tape, all paraphernalia redolent of well-organised drug-dealing.  Fourthly, Mr Corkindale’s house contained amphetamine worth about £1,030, stored in the fridge.

[7]        In Mr Corkindale’s case therefore, a headline sentence greater than Mr Connelly’s is indeed justified and we wholly agree with the Judge on that matter.  However, we consider a 10 year starting point to be excessive, standing the fact that the drugs in this case were Classes B and C, diazepam being Class C, amphetamine and cannabis being Class B.  In our opinion, a headline sentence of 8 years was appropriate.  Applying the same discount of one fifth results in a sentence of 6 years 4 months.  Accordingly in Mr Corkindale’s case, we quash the sentence of 8 years and substitute therefor a sentence of 6 years 4 months.