Shamed ex-cop and accomplice jailed for 12 years for drug smuggling operation

A shamed ex-police inspector and his accomplice who were involved in huge drug smuggling[1] operation have been jailed for a total of 12 years.

David Brown, 51, and Patrick Hattie, 52, were today locked up after police seized cocaine, cannabis resin and herbal cannabis with a value of upwards of £2m.

The pair were snared having been recruited by haulage firm boss Lawrence Phee, who ran the illegal enterprise.

Prosecutors revealed how drugs were imported from Spain into Scotland hidden inside machinery.

Brown, of Carfin, Lanarkshire, claimed he had been duped into trafficking drugs after being stopped ready to board a ferry to Ireland in December 2018.

Brown was today sentenced to six and a half years and Hattie, of Airdrie[2], Lanarkshire, to five and a half years at the High Court[3] in Glasgow.

They had earlier been convicted of being concerned in the supply of the drugs between November 1 and December 1 2018.

Lord Summers said: “I am satisfied that Mr Phee was responsible for the movement of the drugs in this trial.

“You, Mr Brown, had a hands on role and moved the van from Mr Hattie’s yard to Cairnryan and were more than a simple courier…Mr Hattie was the facilitator.

“You knew you were involved in a significant operation due to the size of the container Mr Hattie transported.”

Addressing Brown, he went on: “You were an inspector for the British Transport Police[4] and were awarded a long service and good conduct medal.

“You had a career in the police and the knowledge of criminal offending increased your responsibility.”

Phee, of Airdrie, was jailed for eight and a half years after a separate hearing in 2020 after he pled guilty to the same charges.

He had directed the operation from his base in North Lanarkshire between November 1 2017 and December 1 2018.

Prosecutor Alan Cameron said: “The drugs were transported from the Alicante region of Spain to the UK with industrial machinery.

“These were most commonly generators and compressors.

“The drugs were hidden and then transported in lorry trailers run by a variety of individuals and companies.

“The drivers of the vehicles and the operators of the transport companies were, at times, unaware of the presence of drugs.”

The court heard Phee organised for approximately 15 shipments to be made from Spain into the UK and sometimes onto the Republic of Ireland.

This often involved contacting transport firms using an alias and a fake company name – such as Pat Kelly of Kelly Compressors.

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Mr Cameron said the total quantity of the drugs smuggled was unknown.

But, two incidents gave an “insight” into the large scale operation.

In May 2018, Phee – known as Pat Kelly – and two associates met with a transport company in Alicante.

A huge generator wrapped in clingfilm was then loaded onto a lorry.

The drivers of the truck were later stopped by police in France.

A total of 126kg of herbal cannabis was found stashed inside the generator.

The innocent drivers were held for two days before being freed.

The herbal cannabis had a cost in Scotland of £504,000 and £750,000 in Ireland, if sold in kilogram deals.

But, Mr Cameron said “maximum potential value would be greater” if the drugs were broken down further.

On December 1 2018, a van driven by Brown was stopped by police at Cairnryan ferry port in Dumfries and Galloway.

He claimed to be a courier who had collected a load from Kelly Compressors in Shotts, Lanarkshire.

One of the officers – who had knowledge of machinery – was suspicious about alterations made to a fuel tank that was being transported.

Mr Cameron: “When it was fully open, it was approximately three quarters full of packages of controlled drugs.”

It emerged Phee had tailed the van to Cairnryan, but was not linked to the seizure at that time.

A total of four kg of cocaine, 23kg of herbal cannabis and 5,072 bars of cannabis resin were discovered.

The drugs were valued at £600,000 in Scotland – £1m in Ireland – but again bring in more cash if split into smaller street deals.

Brown told jurors how he had been offered work at short notice of a trip to Ireland using a van hired by Kelly Compressors.

He told jurors in evidence in evidence that he thought he was transporting an oil tank as that was mentioned in the paperwork.

Tony Graham QC, defending Brown, today said: “Mr Brown should not be here as he was a police officer and became involved in criminality of a different kind.

“There was a naivety to his involvement.”

Donald Findlay QC, defending Hattie, said: “He just chose to turn a blind eye to things that would have caused him to hear alarm bells ringing.

“It is because of this position he finds himself here today.”

The pair will both face a Proceeds of Crime hearing at a later date.

References

  1. ^ drug smuggling (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  2. ^ Airdrie (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  3. ^ High Court (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  4. ^ British Transport Police (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  5. ^ coronavirus (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)
  6. ^ latest foodie news (www.glasgowlive.co.uk)