Jailed drug dealer tries to blame recession

THE brother of the Marmion pub shooting victim claimed he turned to drug dealing after the recession hit the family roofing business.

Shaun McKinnon was jailed for four-and-a-half years at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday for being part of an eight-strong gang supplying heroin and cocaine.

The court heard that the 23-year-old had taken over the roofing firm after his brother Alex was killed nearly four years ago, but became racked by debts.

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McKinnon claimed he then became embroiled in drug trafficking, but his gang was smashed in an undercover operation by the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).

The gang was yesterday sentenced to a total of almost 24 years in prison after being caught red-handed with drugs worth more than 200,000 as part of Operation Venom.

McKinnon, of Castlebrae Glebe, Craigmillar, was tracked by officers driving from the Capital to Manchester to pick up a supply of heroin with a street value of nearly 50,000.

At an earlier hearing the six men admitted being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs between February and May last year. Two other gang members had already been jailed before yesterday's sentencing.

Ex-soldier Paul Ward, 29, of Lochend Road, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years. The court heard that when caught with heroin worth a possible 47,550 on the street he was on licence after early release from a six-year sentence for an earlier drug trafficking offence.

Kevin Jones, 43, of Upper Craigour, Moredun, was jailed for three years for acting as a courier. He was paid 400 to deliver eight packages of heroin, the court heard. Foreman joiner Duncan McDonald, 29, of Ferniehill Drive, was given a sentence of three-years and nine months, while Jamie Sweeney, 24, of Greenend Gardens, Gilmerton, was jailed for two-and-a-half years for acting as a drug courier.

Sweeney's defence advocate, Susan Duff, told the court her client had hoped to be a footballer, until injury ended his hopes of a career and he began drinking heavily.

Former soldier Nicholas Brown, 37, of Mansfield, East Calder, was also jailed for two-and-a-half years. His 30 a day heroin habit had left him in debt to suppliers, said defence advocate David Nicholson.

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Detective Chief Superintendent Allan Moffat, head of the investigations group for the SCDEA, said: "This crime group was responsible for supplying a significant amount of class A drugs."

McKinnon has been ordered to attend a confiscation hearing in May under the Proceeds of Crime Act. McKinnon was in The Marmion bar when his brother Alex, 32, was blasted to death with a shotgun in April 2006.

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