Edinburgh prisoner who ran drug empire behind bars seized just £1


Prosecutors have seized just £1 from a prisoner who made more than £39,000 running a drug smuggling operation from three prisons.

Craig Sutton, 38, has earned tens of thousands of pounds running an illicit criminal enterprise from HMP Perth, HMP Edinburgh and HMP Addiewell.

Glasgow High Court heard how Sutton oversaw a scam between February 2015 and July 2017 in which outside dealers supplied heroin and ecstasy to customers.

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But at a hearing in the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, Crown attorneys and Sutton’s defense team agreed the scammer had pocketed £39,625 from the scam.

Judge Lord Tire also heard that investigators concluded that no part of this sum was available at the time.

Lord Tire was also told that prosecutors and defense counsel were in agreement with Sutton, of Renfrew, handing over £1 under the proceeds of crime legislation.

The judge then agreed that Sutton should return the sum.

Sutton pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges before Judge Lord Burns at a hearing at Glasgow High Court in September 2020.

On this occasion, Judge Lord Burns learned how Sutton had been arrested after mentioning his criminal activities in letters and speaking openly about them on prison phones.

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The court heard the offenses only came to light on July 19, 2017 at HMP Addiewell when a fire alarm went off in a nearby cell in Sutton.

Prosecutor Mark McGuire said: ‘For security reasons, prison officers began checking surrounding cells, including Mr Sutton’s, which had been locked from the inside.

“Unlocking the door, they saw a number of people in the cell, including the accused.

“A burning smell was noticed and they were ordered out and the cell was searched and a small amount of heroin was found along with drug paraphernalia and a list of suspicious ticks.”

Sutton’s cell was sealed off and fully searched by police on September 8, 2017, which revealed dozens of letters addressed to Sutton by other prisoners.

There was also an unsent letter written by Sutton in which he outlined his plan to smuggle drugs into prison.

Mr McGuire said: ‘It would be by having third parties outside conceal multiple quantities of the drugs internally; commit high-value shoplifting and pretend to be homeless so that they are remanded in custody.

Police also seized records of all phone calls made or received by Sutton since his incarceration in 2014.

Co-defendant Natalie Williamson, 30, also from Renfrew, admitted allowing her bank account to be used to deposit £30,000 of criminal money.

Mr McGuire added: ‘These tapes included frequent discussions between Defendant Sutton and Defendant Williamson in which Sutton made frequent reference to his heroin and ecstasy dealing in and out of the prison.

“Discussions also took place between the two regarding the use of Williamson’s bank account to receive money owed to Sutton for the drugs.

“Regular mention was made of drugs which he had supplied or had supplied and for which no payment had been made.

“The money received into Williamson’s account clearly shows that the drugs Sutton trafficked were worth at least £30,000.”

Sutton was jailed for five years and three months for the offenses.

On Monday, defense barrister Jennifer Bain told Lord Tire that she and prosecutors had agreed that Sutton’s criminal benefit was £39,625 and that no money from that sum was available.

She said the lawyers were fine with Sutton handing over £1.

Prosecutors can return to court to seize more money if investigators manage to discover that Sutton has other assets he obtained from wrongdoing.


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