A drugs courier caught with £29,000 worth of heroin at Inverness Bus Station has been jailed for two years.
Damian O’Neill was snared after he arrived in the city, where police were waiting for him. But Inverness Sheriff Court heard yesterday that officers almost botched the operation – by swooping on him before he had picked up his bag from the boot.
They then had to trawl through CCTV images and make other inquiries to link the 28-year-old with grey holdall.
O’Neill, who is from Paisley but has Ross-shire connections, yesterday admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin at the bus station on September 21.
Defence solicitor John Brannigan told the court that his client had a drugs problem and he and his family had been threatened if he didn’t deliver the drugs.
He added: “The quantity and quality were not known to him at the time.”
Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart told the court that police had received a tip off that O’Neill was arriving in Inverness, so were waiting for him at the station.
However, two constables challenged him as he stepped off the bus and before he had reclaimed his luggage.
Mr Urquhart added: “The driver removed all the luggage from the bus hold and other passengers reclaimed theirs and left. One grey Nike holdall was left sitting on the pavement unclaimed.
“When O’Neill was asked if the holdall belonged to him, he replied, “I don’t know if that’s my bag.”
The court heard it contained almost half a kilo of diamorphine with a maximum value of around £29,000.
Mr Urquhart said O’Neill’s mobile phone was later examined and was found to contain a number of text messages from a former partner, breaking up with him due to his personal drug use.
“She was traced to an address in Ross-shire and interviewed. She confirmed that O’Neill had left her address to go to Paisley the previous week and identified the holdall as the one he had had when he left.”
Mr Urquhart added that CCTV from buses and a bar showed O’Neill, whose address was given as Inverness Prison, with the grey holdall.