Russell Stirton drugs trial witness jailed for contempt

Image source, Iain McLellan/Spindrift Photo Agency
Image caption,
Russell Stirton was cleared of drug trafficking after a 10-day trial

A "significant" witness in the trial of a businessman cleared of drug smuggling has been jailed for contempt of court.

Samuel Wilson gave evidence in the trial of Russell Stirton, who on Thursday was cleared of trafficking £7.8m of heroin into the UK.

After the not proven verdict, Wilson was found in contempt by Lady Rae for the way in which he gave his evidence during the 10-day trial.

She said she made the ruling because Wilson kept changing his evidence.

She added: "This was a man who was not going to co-operate."

Drugs handover

Mr Stirton, 57, from Milngavie, was cleared of being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug in Greece, Italy and the UK after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

Prosecutors had alleged that Mr Stirton handed over two holdalls containing 34 kilos of heroin at a service station in Greece in November 2012.

HGV driver Peter Cameron, 37, claimed it was Stirton who had given him the drugs.

But, his evidence was contradicted by co-driver Wilson, 47, who told the jury it was a man of Moroccan appearance who made the handover and that Cameron was elsewhere at the time.

Mr Stirton was in Greece on holiday, but denied ever being at the service station where the handover took place.

The drivers were caught with the heroin hidden among breadsticks when they crossed over to the port of Bari in Italy two days later.

They were each jailed for six years.

'Prevarication' in evidence

Lady Rae described Wilson as a "significant witness" and questioned why he had not mentioned the man of Moroccan appearance in an earlier police statement.

She told him: "I'm of the view there was prevarication in your evidence. I find you guilty of contempt.

"Custody is very high in my mind. This is a very serious matter being found guilty of contempt of court in the High Court in a very serious trial."

Wilson's defence QC Thomas Ross said: "This was not a wilful attempt to obstruct justice.

"He apologises profoundly for any behaviour your ladyship may have found challenging. He suffers from stress and anxiety."

Lady Rae remanded Wilson in custody and ordered a background report to be compiled prior to sentencing next month.