A prominent Aberdeen pub boss today pleaded guilty to drug dealing after police found him with more than £1,600 of cocaine.
Paul Clarkson – whose family firm PB Devco owns pubs and restaurants including Soul, The Draft Project and Vovem – sold cocaine to fund his own habit, Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told.
The 42-year-old operations director was rumbled when police received intelligence he was in possession of cocaine at the Draft Project on Langstane Place.
Cops searched him as he left the venue at 9.33pm and found class-A drugs worth £1,630, self-seal bags and a mobile phone bursting with incriminating text messages.
The incident happened on the night of the Scotland v Serbia football match on November 12 last year.
That was also the night The Draft Project caused an uproar after video emerged showing Scotland supporters celebrating wildly, jumping around and hugging each other in breach of Covid rules at the time.
Messages involved Clarkson arranging to supply cocaine
Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson said following the discovery Clarkson was arrested and taken to Kittybrewster station, where he denied dealing drugs.
She said: “He stated he used cocaine for personal consumption but that he did not buy drugs for other persons and did not sell drugs to anyone.”
At that stage, he was released pending the examination of his mobile phone, which uncovered a “significant number of messages indicative of the accused being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs”.
Ms Simpson said: “The earliest of these messages was dated April 1 2019.
“The accused had messaged 11 different individuals and also a group chat on WhatsApp.
“These messages variously involved the accused arranging to supply controlled drugs or requesting payment for drugs previously supplied.
‘Passing of cocaine within a relatively small group of friends’
“The messages make reference to the accused being at work while engaging in these discussions regarding transactions and meeting customers near Soul and Vovem.”
On January 19 this year, Clarkson was rearrested and, in interview, admitted supplying drugs to the people mentioned in the WhatsApp messages.
Ms Simpson said: “He claimed that he did not do this for financial gain but rather to fund his own habit.”
Clarkson, of Forest Road, Aberdeen, pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine between April 1 2019 and November 12 2020.
Defence agent Ian Woodward-Nutt said the offence had not been committed on a “commercial” basis.
He added: “This involved the passing of cocaine within a relatively small group of friends.
“The quantity of drugs involved is relatively modest.”
Mr Woodward-Nutt asked for sentence to be deferred for reports and reserved further mitigation until the next hearing.
Sheriff Morag McLaughlin deferred sentence until next month.
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