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HMA v Steven Black, Robert Turkiewicz and Lee Johnston
Dec 21, 2023
On sentencing, Judge Brown said:
“Steven Black - You pled guilty to charges of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis and a charge of acquiring and possessing criminal property, being around £930K in cash.
In terms of your pleas you accepted being involved at a significant level in the supply of kilo and multi kilo quantities of cocaine and cannabis and that this cash, which was found in your sister’s house, was the proceeds of crime. This plea reflected the information obtained by the police from your encrypted phone which revealed discussions about the delivery of multiple kilo quantities of cocaine and cannabis, the transfer of money in the tens and hundreds of thousands and a comment by you estimating your net worth as a result of your criminal activities at around £2M. There was also the surveillance evidence about your activities on 3 June 2020 when you were delivering kilo quantities of cannabis to various people and the evidence about cocaine being found in your house when it was searched later that day.
In relation to drug dealing on this scale, particularly when it involves a class A drug such as cocaine, a substantial sentence of imprisonment has to be imposed not just as a punishment but also to discourage others who may be aware of how much money can be generated by drug dealing and be tempted to get involved.
The charges against you have an aggravation in relation to a connection with serious organised crime but I do not intend to increase the sentence in respect of that aspect as it is implicit in the offences themselves.
Having taken account of what has been said by counsel on your behalf, I consider that an appropriate sentence in respect of all three charges is 10 years’ imprisonment but I will reduce that by one year to 9 years because of your guilty plea.
“Robert Turkiewicz - You pled guilty to a charge of being concerned in the supplying of cannabis on 3 June 2020.
You were seen by the police arriving by car at a house where earlier that day the co-accused Steven Black had left a substantial quantity of cannabis. You gave a false explanation to the police about why you were there. They noticed that you were smelling of cannabis and on searching your car they found a large bag which also smelled of cannabis and a plastic bag containing around £96,000 in cash. You accept in terms of your guilty plea that you were at that time involved in an operation to supply cannabis. Though no cannabis was found in your possession, the purpose of a drug supply operation is to generate money and the amount of money found in your possession at a time when you were involved in such an operation is relevant in assessing the extent of your participation in that operation. A kilo of cannabis is valued at £3,800 and has a potential street value of around £7,000 so the fact that you had almost £96,000 in cash in your possession tends to indicate that you were playing a significant part in a large-scale supply operation.
Due to the serious nature of this crime, the only appropriate sentence is imprisonment.
I note that you have no previous convictions and take into account what has been said on by counsel on your behalf.
In all the circumstances I consider that an appropriate sentence is 30 months imprisonment but I will reduce that to 27 months because of your guilty plea.
“Lee Johnston – You pled guilty to a charge of being concerned in the supplying of cannabis on 3 June 2020. In terms of your plea you accepted significant responsibility for the transfer that day of kilo and multi kilo quantities of cannabis and this was apparent from the police surveillance evidence. One of these transfer involved a bag containing 2 kilos of cannabis which you collected from the house of a former co-accused Stuart Robertson after it had been left there by Steven Black and which you took to your home. Another was a separate kilo of cannabis which you were seen to supply to a former co-accused Scott Crook. And there were other similar activities, being a male arriving at your house and leaving with a weighted bag, and your leaving a weighted bag in a lane where it was collected by another male. The potential street value of the 3 kilos of cannabis which were recovered was around £21,500. The police also found some £5,500 in cash in your house.
Again given the serious nature of this crime, the only appropriate sentence is imprisonment.
I note that you have a previous conviction in 2011 in respect of a contravention of sec 5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 but given the age of that conviction and the fact that it was dealt with by means of a community payback order I do not consider it to be of any great significance.
In all the circumstances I consider that an appropriate sentence is 30 months imprisonment but I will reduce that to 27 months because of your guilty plea.”
21 December 2023