A former Highland footballer was beginning a jail sentence tonight after cocaine worth more than £12,000 was found in a bush near his home.
Gordon Finlayson, 27, who has played for Elgin City, Brora Rangers and Forres Mechanics and won the 2019 North Caledonian League player of the year award at Alness United, was sentenced to 15 months in jail.
He pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine on the second day of his trial at Inverness Sheriff Court in July.
Finlayson was unmasked as a drug dealer after the stash of cocaine was found in a bush of a communal garden near his home in Shillinghill, Alness, on September 22 2019.
He was ‘foolish’ to get involved
Fiscal depute Robert Weir told the trial that a woman, who lived nearby, was pruning bushes when she discovered a bag of white powder.
Mr Weir said: “She showed it to her partner and then handed it over to police. Later that day, Finlayson approached her three times with regards to losing something in the bush.
“He first claimed he had lost a ball in the bush and the second and third time he claimed his friend had lost a very important bag in a more distressed state.”
The package contained 122g of cocaine – with a wholesale value of £5,000 and a maximum street value of £12,100.
The case, which had been deferred for reports, called today at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Defence solicitor Graham Mann said his client had been “foolish” to get involved in the illicit operation.
Mr Mann explained that a relative of Finlayson’s had been at the centre of a “large scale investigation”, which saw him subject to surveillance and regularly stopped by the police.
It was against this background that Finlayson, of Shillinghill, Alness, had made the decision to “become involved” on the day in question.
‘Football is significant part in his life’
“He accepts that he had knowledge of what he was involved in,” Mr Mann said, adding: “It was a foolish endeavour entirely.”
Making reference to Finlayson’s sporting career, Mr Mann said: “Football has obviously played a significant part in his life, he has reached the stage where he is going to have to find an alternative means of earning money.”
Mr Mann assured the court the offence had been a one-off for his client and added: “This is something that he will put behind him, he will not find himself in this situation at any point in the future.”
He asked the sheriff to take into account the “fleeting” nature of Finlayson’s involvement in the operation, as well as his “lack of commercial involvement” and his explanation for “not knowing the volume of the drugs” involved.
Sheriff Margaret Neilson said: “I have taken into account the report, letters of reference and the mitigation.
“Given the circumstances of the offence and the amount of class A drugs involved I consider only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”