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HMA v Jamie George
Jul 4, 2023
On sentencing Sheriff Derick Hamilton made the following remarks in court:
"You pled guilty to a single charge of culpable and reckless conduct by supplying to the public a dangerous substance, namely, 2,4 Dinotrophenol (DNP) for human consumption, which you knew was being consumed or was intended to be consumed, well knowing that the substance was unsafe for human consumption, injurious to health and potentially lethal if ingested, and you did that all to the danger of life. It is a single charge, but you supplied the substance for a period of more than four years.
DNP is a synthetic benzene-related chemical that is used in many manufacturing processes including explosives and insecticides. It is an industrial chemical. It is a substance that has recently been fashionable to use as a supplement for weight reduction. Users however face a high risk of severe toxicity, the effects of which include kidney failure, liver failure, coma and cardiac arrest. Symptoms are difficult to treat and death may occur in spite of the best possible medical treatment. These effects can occur even where website recommended dosages are taken, and there are many longer term effects for users.
The charge to which you have pled guilty covers a period from 1st May 2017 to 8th October 2021.
You first came to the authorities’ attention in June 2018. Your house and shed were searched. There was found, what can only be described as a significant manufacturing operation using this substance, and it was clear you were selling and distributing the substance for human consumption, and you were distributing it worldwide. It was clear to all from the items recovered during the search, that DNP was not for human consumption.
Whilst inquiries into your activities were ongoing, you were served with a Remedial Action Notice requiring you to cease the manufacture, distribution or sale of products containing DNP, for human consumption.
At that stage, notwithstanding what you say in the Criminal Justice Social Work Report as to your state of knowledge, you were well aware of the dangers of DNP and that you were prohibited from selling it for human consumption.
You took no notice of that however, and continued your trade in the supply and sale of DNP. Much evidence was ingathered which showed you were the main (if not the sole) player in this operation.
Following the initial investigations, you were arrested in October 2018. You admitted knowledge of the dangers of DNP, and that it was not safe for human consumption. You denied you were involved in the distribution of it.
The Crown say that a bank account was identified which appears to be the main trading account for your supply of DNP and other substances, and that there was £50,000 of suspicious money over a one year period. The Crown is unable to say how much of that sum related to DNP. I emphasise that I am dealing only with one substance (DNP) in this case.
Eventually you were arrested again, after an undercover police operation, in April 2021. It is clear that your earlier arrest had not deterred you from further trading in DNP.
You are part owner of two gyms. Investigations led the Crown to believe you were using those businesses in the distribution of DNP.
You knew that a former friend, on taking the DNP supplied by you had suffered an adverse reaction and had to be detained in hospital overnight. Another buyer the police spoke to, confirmed that he too had had an adverse reaction.
As you now accept by your plea of guilty, you have been involved in the supply and sale of this extremely dangerous substance for a period of more than four years. You continued your operation, notwithstanding visits from the authorities in 2018, and being arrested that year. You did that well in the knowledge of the dangers that DNP presented to those who consumed it. You had no regard for the safety of those you were supplying.
I do not know to what extent you have gained financially from this operation. All the evidence points to your gain being significant. The Crown is in the process of taking proceedings against you under the Proceeds of Crime legislation.
In considering the appropriate sentence in this case, I am not blessed with a wealth of authorities in Scotland which deal with this specific substance. Although the substance is not illegal per se and the charge is one of culpable and reckless conduct, the nature of your supply of this dangerous substance is such that I can be informed by the decisions in relation to the supply of illegal drugs in Scotland. I can also be informed by the English Sentencing Council’s comments in relation to the supplying of psychoactive substances.
This was your operation. You organised the manufacture and sale of this substance. You sold it as an aid to weight loss. You did that for considerable financial gain and, it appears, you ran part of the operation through your gym businesses. Your operation was well organised and you distributed your product worldwide. Significantly you carried out your operation for years, despite coming to the attention of the authorities, and you even continued your trade after you were arrested.
I do not believe you have shown any remorse. You claim to have only recently discovered the dangers of this substance and as a result you have put certain measures in place in your gyms. The evidence is clear, you knew some years ago of the dangers to all of those persons you supplied this substance to. Even with that knowledge you continued to put people’s lives at risk.
I am told that this substance is still readily available on the internet. It has been submitted on your behalf that a custodial sentence is not required in this case. Clearly it is not properly understood what the dangers of this substance are. Trafficking in this substance and others like it has to stop. Those who trade in this sort of substance and by doing so put people’s lives at risk must expect significant sentences. Unless appropriate measures are taken to deter people from trading in this substance, people will continue to be exposed to significant dangers. I do acknowledge that you have no criminal record to speak of. You however persistently and knowingly put people at significant risk by your actions, and you did that for financial gain. There is no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.
The appropriate sentence in this case is one of four years. You tendered a plea of guilty at a First Diet hearing, thereby avoiding the need for a trial. You are therefore entitled to a modification of your sentence. You did not plead guilty however at the first scheduled Diet. Your sentence will be modified by a period of 11 months and you will be sentenced to a period of imprisonment of 37 months."
4 July 2023