A former lance corporal described as a “thoroughly respected” soldier has avoided jail despite being caught up in a drugs debacle.
Scott Hutchison appeared for sentencing at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday, after he pled guilty to supplying cannabis from various locations within the city between May 27 and August 27 last year.
The 29-year-old was a top recruit from Catterick Garrison and around 20 months after graduating was made lance corporal, an promotion that usually takes a number of years.
He was then sent on a tour of duty in Afghanistan but his mental health suffered, the court heard, and he was eventually medically discharged with a post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.
Upon his return he continued to struggled with PTSD, and went on a “retreat” to Peru to improve his mental state, but has since come to see that decision as “a disaster”.
Defence agent Mike Munro said: “He returned penniless and no better physically or mentally.
“In February 2018, he started taking drugs and soon became debt ridden. He was then easily swayed by those selling drugs.”
Mr Munro said his client had become “the proverbial cog in the wheel”, though he accepted Hutchison was “a very large cog”.
“The person pulling the proverbial strings thought he could get him to sell two kilos of cannabis and gave him instructions on how to do this,” he added.
Hutchison was arrested by police after the sale, with 1,900g of the cannabis recovered.
Its value was assessed in the region of £20,000.
Mr Munro presented to Sheriff Morag McLaughlin reports from a psychologist, as well as character references from charities his client has volunteered with as part of his plea in mitigation.
The veteran had brought a bag to the dock as he “did not expect to be leaving through the front door” in anticipation that a custodial sentence was “perhaps inevitable”.
Sheriff McLaughlin, however, took pity on the troubled veteran.
She said: “Your solicitor has argued forcibly on your behalf and I have taken into account all the circumstances.
“You have faced significant issues since your discharge from service in Afghanistan and have accepted responsibility for your crime fully.”
Hutchison, whose address was given as Great Western Road, made subject to a restriction of liberty order requiring him to remain within his home between the hours of 8pm and 6am for the next year.
He was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and placed under supervision for 18 months.