Post Of­fice work­ers raised the alarm

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS - Court re­porter

Post Of­fice staff and po­lice helped bust the first com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion in Scot­land to pro­duce a dan­ger­ous new drug called shat­ter.

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Palmer, who de­scribed him­self as a self­em­ployed on­line shop owner, lived alone at Road­side Cot­tage, Alyth.

He turned his home into a mon­ey­mak­ing fac­tory to pro­duce the class B drug, de­vel­oped by pass­ing bu­tane gas through cannabis.

He was a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the Post Of­fice at the Scot­mid store in the town’s Air­lie Street, where he would des­patch spe­cial de­liv­ery pack­ages to ad­dresses both north and south of the bor­der.

But staff be­came sus­pi­cious af­ter de­tect­ing a strong odour from him and the parcels, be­lieved to be cannabis.

The Royal Mail’s se­cu­rity de­part­ment was alerted and they called in the po­lice.

Palmer’s home was searched and po­lice seized thou­sands of pounds worth of shat­ter as well as cannabis and the equip­ment used to pro­duce the il­licit sub­stance.

De­pute fis­cal John Mal­pass said the case re­lated to Palmer pro­duc­ing and be­ing con­cerned in the sup­ply of bu­tane hash oil (BHO).

He ex­plained: “It’s a pro­cessed form of a sub­stance iden­ti­fied on foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tion as tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nal (THC), a class B drug.

“Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, it’s a rel­a­tively new prod­uct on the il­licit mar­ket and the re­cov­ery of BHO is very rare in Scot­land.

“It’s be­lieved this case is the first find of a com­mer­cial-style set-up in Scot­land.”

Palmer, a first of­fender, will be sen­tenced on June 7 af­ter back­ground re­ports are pre­pared.

And Sher­iff Wil­liam Wood warned the ac­cused that he does not rule out the imposition of a jail term.

“The court will have to con­sider whether a cus­to­dial sen­tence is the only way this mat­ter can be dealt with,” he said

Now liv­ing in Morn Street, Alyth, Palmer ad­mit­ted that be­tween Au­gust 2015 and Fe­bru­ary 2016 he was con­cerned in the sup­ply of THC.

He also pled guilty to pro­duc­ing the drug at his home be­tween the same dates.

Mr Mal­pass said the tex­ture of BHO re­sem­bles hard­ened trea­cle tof­fee.

Dur­ing the pro­duc­tion process liq­uid bu­tane is al­lowed to evap­o­rate into a gas, which cre­ates an ex­plo­sive at­mos­phere.

He added: “The pro­duc­tion process is highly dan­ger­ous in an un­con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment as highly volatile sub­stances are be­ing used.”

In the week be­fore Christ­mas 2015 Palmer vis­ited the post of­fice on a daily ba­sis and would hand over two or three pack­ages for post­ing.

A worker no­ticed a strong smell of cannabis com­ing from the pack­ages.

In Jan­uary 2016 pack­ages bound for Ayr­shire and Sur­rey were opened and ex­am­ined.

They con­tained 6.77 grammes and 0.97 grammes re­spec­tively of shat­ter.

They were worth be­tween £300-600 and £50-100.

A fur­ther 41.58 grammes of shat­ter with a po­ten­tial il­licit value of be­tween £2070 and £4140, were also seized.

In ad­di­tion more than 700 grammes of cannabis, with a to­tal po­ten­tial il­licit value of be­tween £5370 and £15,940, were con­fis­cated.

£560 in cash was also found in the cot­tage.

The pros­e­cu­tion have asked for the drugs and as­so­ci­ated equip­ment to be de­stroyed.

Guilty Joshua Palmer leaves court

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