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HMA v James White


Aug 11, 2023

At the High Court in Stirling today, Lord Colbeck sentenced James White to 9 years and 10 months in prison after the offender admitted his involvement in serious and organised crime.

On sentencing, Lord Colbeck told White:

“James White, on 30 June 2023 you pled guilty (by way a section 76 indictment) to a charge of directing various persons involved in serious and organised crime to commit a number of serious offences, contrary to section 30(1)(a) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

You are 46 years of age. You have four previous convictions, all in relation to road traffic matters. You have never previously been sentenced to a period of imprisonment. Those previous convictions pale in to insignificance when compared to the charge to which you have pled guilty.

You have accepted directing various persons involved in serious and organised crime to commit a number of serious offences. The full extent of that direction was explained to the court when the case last called. The offence was committed over a period only a few weeks short of 10 years, at numerous locations across three continents - in Scotland and England, and in Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil.

Amongst the various parts of the indictment, you accept directing others in the importation and supply of controlled drugs worth millions of pounds; instructing acts of violence and the use of firearms; orchestrating and executing a common plan to locate Robert Allan as a consequence of which he was abducted, assaulted over two days and then shot with firearms to his severe injury and to the danger of his life; having in your possession and under your control, as a senior member of the organised crime group, a quantity of prohibited firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories, including self-loading pistols and submachine guns, and a fragmentation hand grenade; constructing concealed hides in a number of premises and vehicles; possessing false identification and falsely obtained genuine passport documentation, and instructing and arranging for others to be in possession of same so as to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies and to evade arrest; and instructing others to introduce in to prison quantities of controlled drugs.

In determining sentence I am first required to assess the seriousness of the offence. In the circumstances I have narrated, the offence to which you have pled guilty is one of the utmost seriousness, involving a degree of criminality seldom seen by the courts in Scotland.

I do not treat the fact that you were operating in an organised crime group as an aggravating factor, having regard to the nature of the offence to which you have pled guilty. Nor do I treat the fact that the commission of many of the constituent parts of the offence were committed for financial gain as an aggravating factor - this being an inherent part of the offence itself. Equally, I do not treat the attempts to conceal evidence as an aggravating factor, for that same reason. In determining the headline sentence, I take in to account no aggravating factors. 

Whilst I have had regard to all that has today been said on your behalf by Mr Findlay KC and all that is contained within the CJSWR, there is nothing within that which can be fairly categorised as mitigating.

You have not previously been sentenced to a period of imprisonment. The court cannot pass a sentence of imprisonment unless it considers that no other method of dealing with you is appropriate. The gravity of the charge to which you had pled guilty is such that there is no other method of dealing with you other than by the imposition of a custodial sentence.

The maximum sentence open to the court for a contravention of section 30 of the 2010 Act is one of 14 years imprisonment.

The extent of the criminality to which you have pled guilty is such that, had a higher headline sentence been open to me, I would have concluded that the appropriate headline sentence was, in fact, one in excess of 14 years. In reaching this conclusion, I have regard to the sentence of 15 years and 8 months’ imprisonment imposed on one of the perpetrators of the assault on Robert Allan, an assault which you orchestrated.

I am, however, constrained by the maximum sentence available in terms of section 30(6)(a) of the 2010 Act,. The headline sentence in this case is one of fourteen years imprisonment.

I am required by law to give you credit for your plea of guilty, that is to recognise the utilitarian value such a plea has to the administration of justice.

I recognise that you indicated a willingness to plead guilty at your first appearance on 8 August 2022. A section 76 letter was signed by you on 9 May 2023, some 9 months later.

Whilst a lengthy trial has been avoided by your plea, many of the witnesses in a trial would have been police officers. It is also relevant to the question of discount that a petition warrant and an Interpol Red Notice were issued for you as long ago as 2018 and that you did not consent to the extradition process.

Having regard to these considerations, I will discount the headline sentence by 20%, which reduces it to one of 11 years 2 months imprisonment.

From that figure, I am required to afford to you a further reduction to reflect the time you spent in custody in Brazil awaiting extradition. The periods in question (19 June 2020 to 7 September 2021 and 24 June to 4 August 2022) amount to 1 year 4 months or thereby.

Accordingly, the sentence of imprisonment I will impose is one of 9 years 10 months imprisonment.

Ordinarily, a sentence of imprisonment will run from the date an accused person is first remanded in custody for an offence. In your case, that was on 8 August 2022. However, you accept that whilst remanded you continued to direct others in relation to the introduction of controlled drugs into the prison establishment until 14 March 2023.

In these circumstances, the sentence of imprisonment I have imposed will run from 15 March 2023.”

11 August 2023