Drug dealers threatened an Inverness man and woman if they didn’t hide almost £38,000 worth of cannabis resin.
But police were watching one of the narcotics traders and their covert surveillance operation led to the recovery of the haul.
Yesterday at Inverness Sheriff Court, 39-year-old mother of three Marguerite Gordon and Barry Moore, 32, were jailed for being concerned in the supply of the drug between November, 2012 and March, 2013.
Assistant hotel manager Gordon of 35 Millerton View, Inverness was jailed for 14 months and plant operator Moore, of 48 Millerton Avenue, got 18 months in custody.
The court was told that Gordon was seen in the company of a suspected drug dealer and was being watched by police.
Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart said: “She was seen to drive to the Blackfold area on two occasions in February, 2014 and on one occasion was seen to be handed over a package by a person of interest.
“Police later searched the area and 50 metres along a forest track they found a rucksack containing 13 9oz bars of cannabis. Her DNA was on the handles.”
Mr Urquhart said the drugs had a maximum street value of £13,920.
He went on: “In February, police officers saw Moore being handed a package by a person who was the main person under surveillance.
“Police went to his house with a search warrant and Moore told them: ‘I know exactly what you are here for. It’s in the bin down the garden. Police found the package and it contained twenty 9 ounce bars of cannabis resin and two others in his house.
“They had a maximum street value of £23,550. He told police: ‘I did it to pay off drug debts.I don’t know much. I just held on to it.”
Gordon’s defence agent Kevin Dugan said his client and her children had been threatened to take possession of the cannabis.
“She was given a package and dumped it. She went back a few times to check it was still there. She is a vulnerable adult and has been abused both as a child and as an adult. There was no gain for her in this.”
Moore’s lawyer, Marc Dickson said: “He ran up a £6000 drug debt after a series of cataclysmic events in his life.
“His father was first diagnosed with cancer and had to go through a series of major operations from which he is still recovering.
“Then his mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away five months ago. He also broke up with his long-time partner and he lost his job.
“He began drinking too much and abusing other substances and had no mechanism to pay off the debt. Pressure was put on him to take possession of the drugs to pay off some of the debt. He also made no personal gain.”
Jailing the pair, Sheriff Margaret Neilson told them: “The drugs were of a high value. I accept you were not the main players in this but without you, they would not be able to ply their trade. Only a custodial sentence is appropriate as it may act as a deterrent to others.”