Speedboat drug dealers botched ferry escape bid
Two men who tried to smuggle nearly £30,000 of cannabis rescued by lifeboat before capture
TWO bungling drug dealers who tried to smuggle nearly £30,000 of drugs into Shetland were snared after their speedboat was picked up by Lerwick lifeboat.
Mitchell Cross and Alasdair Kelly hatched an elaborate plan to bring a holdall full of cannabis from Aberdeen to Lerwick via the overnight ferry.
When Cross arrived on the island, he threw the bag over the side of the ferry to Kelly, who was wearing a wetsuit and waiting in the speedboat.
But Lerwick Sheriff Court heard this week that things went wrong when Kelly failed to secure the boat at the nearby Hay’s Dock – leading to it floating out to sea before being rescued by the Lerwick lifeboat.
This sparked a full-scale search for Kelly after he was spotted swimming in the water before disappearing.
The pair were caught and have been sent to prison; Cross for four years and Kelly for two years and four months.
Detective Sergeant Bruce Peebles said: “Both men played significant parts in this elaborate, though ultimately botched, drug sourcing and dealing operation.
“This inquiry demonstrated that as well as those based in the mainland of Britain, locally based criminals are responsible for bringing drugs, on this occasion on a very large scale, into Shetland.
“This will not be tolerated and will be investigated on all occasions.”
Two men who tried to smuggle nearly £30,000 of cannabis into Shetland have been jailed.
Mitchell Cross, 26, of Lerwick, was given four years at Lerwick Sheriff Court this week, while Alasdair Kelly, 28, of Sandwick, was locked up for two years and four months.
The court heard Kelly – in a wetsuit and waiting in a speedboat – picked up a cannabis and cannabis resin-filled holdall Cross had thrown in the water when he arrived back in Lerwick aboard NorthLink freight ship Helliar on December 18 2016.
But their plan failed because Kelly had not fully secured the speedboat at nearby Hay’s Dock.
When it floated out to sea it was rescued by the Lerwick lifeboat, sparking a full-scale search for Kelly, who was seen in the water before disappearing.
The pair previously admitted supplying cannabis and cannabis resin from their homes and other addresses and locations in Lerwick and the Helliar between September 4 2015 and December 18 2016.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said the incident in December 2016 was probably the “tip of the iceberg” of their drug dealing.
Procurator fiscal Duncan
“A carefully planned endeavour which only just failed”
Mackenzie said the plot was a “sophisticated and carefully planned endeavour which only just failed”.
The court heard Cross was the ringleader, with close friend Kelly helping out.
He said Cross had booked a one-way flight to Aberdeen on December 16 2016 for the next day, booking himself back north aboard the Helliar.
On the ferry he was then seen with a now-full holdall.
The bag contained about 1kg of cannabis and 4kg of cannabis resin.
The freight boat arrived in Lerwick at around 11.30am on December 18 2016, with Kelly on hand in the speedboat.
The bag was thrown in to the water and picked up by Kelly, who stopped off at Hay’s Dock – but the boat started to drift into the sea.
He retrieved the holdall but was seen “dripping wet” and making a “panicked” phone call to ask to hide at a friend’s house.
Kelly’s defence agent, Gregor Kelly, said his client was more of a “cog in the wheel”.
Tommy Allan, defending Cross, said his client had “accepted in full” his involvement in the dealing.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank noted the pair had admitted being involved in drug dealing over 15 months and said their botched job was a “calculated and tenacious venture” symptomatic of a “commercial operation for profit”.
UNDERWATER: The speedboat used in the foiled smuggling operation was later swamped at Lerwick’s harbour