£167,000 seized from right-hand man in drug trafficking ring

A MAN serving a six-and-a-half-year jail term for being a major figure in a cocaine-trafficking scheme was stripped of more than £167,000 yesterday.

David Martindale, 33, of Murieston, Livingston, West Lothian, made 275,000 from criminal activity, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

However, a confiscation order was made for the lower sum which represented the value of his realisable assets.

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Martindale, once a student at Heriot-Watt University, was caught with a drugs baron, Alexander Donnelly, 50, of Glasgow, by an undercover police operation.

Officers mounted surveillance of Donnelly and his accomplices and established that a flat in the city had been set up as a small factory to prepare and subdivide consignments of cocaine. Three seizures by detectives netted more than six kilos of the class-A drug, worth up to 325,000.

The scheme linked Glasgow with Manchester and London, and Donnelly received a ten-year sentence in November last year. He also handed over more than 177,000 in illicit profits. The judge in the case, Lord Kinclaven, said Donnelly had been at the top of the illegal drugs enterprise.

Donnelly, a former taxi driver, was suspected by police to be a key figure in the Glasgow drugs scene and he had been jailed for four-and-a-half years in 1996 for involvement in the supplying of heroin.

At that time, he was stripped of assets worth 270,000, then the largest confiscation order made in Scotland under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Lord Kinclaven told Martindale that he had played the role of "right-hand man" to Donnelly in the cocaine dealing network, meeting couriers and checking arrangements for moving the drugs.

Maurice Smyth, the defence solicitor-advocate, had explained that Martindale went into the pub trade, but one of his bars suffered 60,000 of uninsured fire damage. Donnelly put up the money to re-establish the business and the two men formed a joint venture to acquire other bars. Martindale discovered Donnelly had a problem with drugs, and was "apparently sourcing more than he required". Although Martindale had some misgivings, he joined Donnelly in the drugs trade.

Mr Smyth said Martindale's initial doubts were swept away when he learned the cocaine was being supplied to a wide section of the population, including professionals who were better off than him.

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The chain of pubs was being prepared for sale but "everything crashed" when Martindale was arrested.

His part in the cocaine trafficking had been "a horrific aberration with dreadful consequences".

Martindale, currently in Glenochil Prison, did not attend yesterday's hearing, when the court was told that the Crown accepted the proceeds of his criminal conduct amounted to 275,000, and that his realisable assets were 167,718.36.

The judge, Lady Smith, said Martindale would be given six months to pay.