A drug courier who brought a major consignment of heroin into Scotland from Liverpool was jailed for six years yesterday.
Mark Hutchison was caught with 3kg of the Class A drug with a street value of £210,000.
Police found a plastic bag containing six half-kilo blocks of diamorphine in the boot of his black Vauxhall Astra after they stopped him on the M74 near Lockerbie in April 2014.
A jury took just over an hour to find the 35-year-old guilty of being concerned in the supply of drugs.
They were told he had only recently been completed a five-year prison sentence for smuggling 2kg of cocaine onto the island of Jersey in 2009.
Passing sentence, Lord Armstrong told Hutchison: “I accept that in relation to the journey to Liverpool your role was that of a courier rather than a dealer in drugs.
“The effect of your conviction is you’ve been found guilty of participating in the distribution of this evil drug.
“Heroin is a scourge on our society and in particular on the lives of young people.
“Those involved, once brought to justice, should expect significant sentences of imprisonment.”
The judge highlighted Hutchison’s previous conviction involving another class A drug, adding: “It would appear, in similar circumstances, you’ve not learned from that.”
During his two-week trial at the High Court in Livingston, Hutchison claimed that he did not know that the bag he collected from a contact in Liverpool contained heroin,
The father-of-three’s excuse was that a loan shark had asked him to up pick up counterfeit banknotes in return for settling a £1,350 gambling debt.
The jury did not believe him and returned a unanimous verdict finding him guilty as charged.
Hutchison, from Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, was caught as part of Operation Lapstone, a major surveillance operation run by Police Scotland’s Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit (OCCT).
The initiative has resulted in the jailing of members of Scotland’s biggest drug gang, including convicted killer Stephen Nisbet who ran a £1m heroin empire from Saughton Prison in Edinburgh .