'Ally McDeal' ordered to hand over £5,000 crime profits for acting as prison drug mule

SITTING on a padded bench at the High Court in Edinburgh, Angela Baillie was yesterday confronted with the financial cost of her crime. The designer suits, elegant handbags and promising career were gone. Instead, the former solicitor was clothed in a green jumper, her long dark hair lank and loose.

For the last 11 months Baillie, 33, who has been dubbed "Ally McDeal" in the tabloid press, has resided in a single cell at Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirlingshire, which she has tried to brighten with photographs of her 16-year-old daughter, her family and what few friends remain.

Last April, she was convicted of drug dealing by smuggling heroin and diazepam tablets worth 1,558 to an inmate at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.

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The authorities believed Baillie was a veteran drug mule. However, she was charged and convicted on a single incident, which her defence team insisted was carried out under duress and in fear for her life and that of her daughter.

The Crown Office had sought a confiscation order for 52,556, which officials believed were the proceeds of her crimes. Yesterday, they were forced to settle for just 5,000.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Baillie was expected to provide written evidence - including bank statements - that the total sum sought was legally earned. She successfully argued that for 47,556 of the 52,000.

Baillie, formerly of Newton Mearns, Glasgow, had admitted being concerned in the supply of the drugs passed in a cigarette packet to a client during a prison visit in October 2005, while working for a criminal-law firm in Glasgow.

Baillie - who is the daughter of Frank Baillie, a successful businessman and a former director of Scottish & Universal Newspapers - claimed she was pressurised into carrying the package by a female relative of a senior underworld figure, who visited her home and showed her a gun.

Former friends of Baillie described her as being attracted by the illicit thrill of associating with gangsters. She was also a cocaine addict with a history of psychiatric problems, which were later diagnosed as manic depression. In 2002, she took an overdose of paracetamol, and agreed to be treated for drug addiction at the Priory Clinic in Surrey. She attempted suicide again in 2004.

During her trial last year, the court was told that Baillie's history of psychiatric problems left her unable to resist the gangland figure's demand to deliver the drugs. On 23 October 2005, she visited Barlinnie Prison and passed over the cigarette packet to a prisoner. However, authorities had been tipped off and the prisoner was later strip-searched and the drugs discovered.

As well as receiving a 32-month jail term, Baillie was faced with action under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows authorities to examine an offender's financial records going back six years, and to calculate legitimate income and the total sum received.

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In confiscation cases, two figures are recorded - the proceeds of general criminal conduct, and the amount to be confiscated. Often, an offender's known, realisable assets are insufficient to cover the proceeds and the amount seized can therefore be much lower.

In January, a cocaine trafficker whose proceeds of crime were more than 300,000 had a confiscation order of 1 made against him as he had no possessions of any worth. However, if any are discovered in the future, they may be seized.

Defence counsel Mark Moir said he had been instructed by Baillie to agree 5,000 should be recorded as the proceeds of her general criminal conduct.

He added: "The instructions have been tendered on the basis that the onus is on an accused to account for all monies passing through their bank account in the last six years. With a number of cheques and monies [in Baillie's case], the source cannot be verified because the bank's microfiche system has effectively been deleted. She is unable to satisfy the legislation on these matters and unable to rebut the presumption made in the act, and accepts the figure of 5,000 is to be the proceeds of her general criminal conduct."

Barry Divers, the advocate-depute, confirmed the figure and said a confiscation order should be made in the same amount, with Baillie to be given two months to pay. The judge made formal orders to verify the agreement.

During her time at Cornton Vale, Baillie has reportedly worked in the beauty salon and assisted Margaret "Mags" Haney, a convicted drug dealer, in completing her autobiography by marking libellous passages. It was also reported she was assaulted by one prisoner for not sharing her newspapers.

Baillie is eligible to be fitted with an electronic tag and may be released in May, after serving less than half her sentence.

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