A drug trafficker who tried to smuggle heroin into an Edinburgh prison by using a drone was jailed for more than five years yesterday.
John Grant lost control of the aircraft and it crashed with its load of drugs and mobile phones in a residential garden.
The grounded device contained footage on its camera of Grant adjusting settings on the drone and with GPS co-ordinates of his home address. The device was found by a woman in the Redhall area of Edinburgh who noticed a lot of string strewn around her back garden.
When she began to gather it up, a black sock attached to the string fell from the roof of her garden hut. She then found it was attached to a drone wedged between her hut and fence.
She cut open the sock and found it contained three mobile phones, two chargers and a haul of heroin and diazepam.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard the heroin was worth £11,000, but its value would have risen if it had successfully been delivered into prison.
After Grant, 47, was identified, a subsequent search of his home found a further half kilo of heroin worth £48,000.
Grant, formerly of Loganlea Terrace, in Edinburgh, admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin between November 5 and 18 last year. He also admitted two breaches of Scottish prison legislation by attempting to fly the Class A drug and mobile phones into Saughton jail in Edinburgh on November 5.
He also pled guilty to culpably and recklessly piloting “an unmanned aircraft system” at night with its aviation lights taped, making it invisible to other aircraft.
A judge told Grant, who was on bail at the time of the offences: “You have pled guilty to a series of serious charges.”
Grant, a former mechanic, was previously jailed for 44 months for a drug trafficking offence.
Advocate depute Jim Keegan said that, after the downed drone was recovered, a memory card was found containing images and footage and GPS information.
The prosecutor added: “Footage from the early hours of November 4 showed the accused seated in his living room and operating a remote controller and an electronic tablet to adjust the drone’s settings.
“It is important to be clear the DJI Phantom is regarded by the Civil Aviation Authority as an aircraft and not a toy.
“It falls into the category of a small unmanned surveillance aircraft, due to the data collection capability.”
Defence counsel, Tony Lenehan, said Grant’s drug use had worsened after his last prison sentence and added: “He became, what I would describe as a junior partner or employee in a criminal enterprise.”