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HMA v Paul Fleming


Aug 17, 2023

At the High Court in Stirling today, Lord Colbeck sentenced Paul Fleming to 9 years in prison after the offender pled guilty to being involved in serious and organised crime.

On sentencing, Lord Colbeck said:

“Paul Fleming, on 18 July 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 39 years of age. You have a number previous convictions, predominantly in relation to road traffic matters, however, most notably a High Court conviction from 2007 in relation to a contravention of section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 – being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs – for which you received a custodial sentence of 43 months imprisonment.

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 of just over 4 years, at a number of locations in Scotland, in England and in Spain.

Amongst the various parts of the indictment, you accept directing others in the importation, sale and supply of cocaine and cannabis at various locations in the United Kingdom, Europe and elsewhere; to identify and utilise a number of premises for the purpose of storing and concealing controlled drugs and money; to arrange for the importation of prohibited firearms and ammunition; to supply and use encrypted devices to send and receive messages regarding the sale, supply and importation of controlled drugs, firearms and ammunition; to conceal, disguise, convert and transfer criminal property by hiding cash in premises and vehicles, converting and transferring cash throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, all in the interests of furthering organised crime; and converting cash by using same to pay for designer watches.

In the circumstances I have narrated, the offence to which you have pled guilty is one of the utmost seriousness.

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, the only aggravating factor I take in to account is the relevant High Court previous conviction I have referred to, recognising that the offence in question was committed some years ago. 

Whilst I have had regard to all that has today been said on your behalf by Mr McConnachie KC and all that is contained within the CJSWR, whilst you are candid as to your role, there is nothing before me which can be properly described as mitigating.

The gravity of the charge to which you have 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 I am satisfied that a custodial sentence at the upper end of that available to the court is appropriate. The headline sentence in this case is one of twelve years imprisonment.

I am required by law to give you credit for your plea of guilty, that is to recognise the value such a plea has to the administration of justice, however, that credit will be restricted to reflect the fact that in any trial many of the witnesses would have been police officers and the fact that you required to be extradited from Spain and then delayed that extradition by claiming asylum (which application was rejected by the Spanish courts).

I recognise that a section 76 letter was signed by you on 22 May 2023, you having first appeared on this matter on 3 March 2023.

Having regard to these considerations, I will discount the headline sentence by 25%, which reduces it to one of 9 years imprisonment.

That sentence will run from the date you were effectively first remanded in custody for this offence, namely, 20 June 2022, that date reflecting the time you spent in custody awaiting extradition.”

17 August 2023