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University student from Wick who travelled from Edinburgh to Inverness with cocaine and cannabis haul avoids jail sentence

By Ali Morrison

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Inverness Sheriff Court.
Inverness Sheriff Court.

A university student who was caught with £10,500 worth of cocaine and cannabis after a Christmas Eve train journey has avoided a jail sentence.

Sheriff Gary Aitken decided against a custodial sentence for Marcus Long (21) of Dundee Street, Edinburgh, because he is in the final year of a degree course in the city and had removed himself from the drug scene and a negative peer group.

At Inverness Sheriff Court he told Long, who is originally from Wick, that if he had not taken these steps, he would be going to jail.

Instead he imposed 150 hours of unpaid work which will be carried out in conjunction with hours Long is already subject to for previous offending, details of which were not given in court.

Sheriff Aitken told him: “I sincerely hope I will never see you again, you get your degree and get on with your life.”

Defence solicitor Graham Mann had urged Sheriff Aitken to treat his client differently from some other offenders.

“He seems to have straightened himself out and is in the final stages of his education at a well-respected university,” he said. “This shows application and determination.

“I think he deserves some special treatment.”

At a previous hearing the court heard that Long had travelled north from Edinburgh on a train in December 2018 and then met up with a Darren Stewart (22) from Grantown-on-Spey, who has already been dealt with separately by the imposition of a similar punishment.

The pair drove to Inverness, but police had received a tip-off about the festive delivery of 60 grams of cocaine and 450 grams of cannabis and intercepted Stewart’s car in the city’s Bank Street.

A search revealed a holdall containing the illicit drugs.

Fiscal depute Karen Aitken said police examined CCTV footage from a Glasgow to Aviemore train showing both men, with Long having the holdall for the duration of the journey.

The search also revealed a CS gas canister belonging to Stewart, which is classified in law as a firearm as it can discharge a noxious liquid.

In addition, officers found £900 in cash in Long’s possession.

Long admitted being concerned in the supply of drugs as well as a number of previous convictions, including two for drugs possession and an assault to severe injury for which he was previously sent to detention.

Sheriff Aitken ordered the forfeiture of the £900.

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