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HMA v Aaron Bradford


Mar 27, 2024

At the High Court in Aberdeen today, Judge Andrew Miller sentenced Aaron Bradford to 8 years in prison for his involvement in serious organised crime relating to the supply of controlled drugs. Bradford had been found guilty following a trial.

On sentencing, Judge Miller said:

“Aaron Bradford, you were convicted after trial of being involved in serious organised crime contrary to Section 28 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (charge 1), relating to the supply of controlled drugs and the Class A controlled drug cocaine in particular, and of being concerned in the supplying of cocaine, contrary to Section 4(3)(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (charge 2), aggravated by a connection with serious organised crime. These offences were committed between 31 March 2020 and 15 June 2020, when you lived at an address in Dundee.

It is clear from the evidence led at your trial that, during the period covered by these charges, you played a leading, or at least significant, role in an operation to supply controlled drugs, particularly cocaine, in the Dundee area.

By their guilty verdict in relation to charge 1, the jury were satisfied that you personally exchanged encrypted messages, via the EncroChat platform, with other users of that platform, relating to the purchase by you of kilo quantities of cocaine, together with adulterants used to increase the bulk and volume of cocaine prior to its onward supply, and relating to the purchase by you of significant quantities of other controlled drugs, specifically amphetamine and edible products containing cannabis, for onward supply.

Further messages which you exchanged with other EncroChat users related to arrangements for the transportation of controlled drugs to you for onward supply, the process of adulterating cocaine for onward supply, the use of packaging designed to evade the detection of cocaine by the police during transportation, the collection of drug debts owed to you, and the sending by you of large quantities of cash to another EncroChat user in payment for controlled drugs supplied to you.

By their guilty verdict in relation to charge 2, the jury were satisfied that you were personally and knowingly involved in an operation based at your home address to supply cocaine. Amongst the items recovered during a search of that property by police officers were things commonly used by those involved in the supply of cocaine, including mixing devices, packaging and a hydraulic press and associated components, all contaminated with traces of cocaine or another powder which is commonly mixed with cocaine during the supply process.

These are very serious offences because of the harm which the supply of controlled drugs, particularly Class A drugs such as cocaine, causes to individuals, families and communities.

I have had regard to all of the information about your personal circumstances which is contained in your criminal justice social work report. The report confirms that you continue to deny involvement in these crimes. The members of the jury were satisfied of your guilt, and I must sentence you on the basis of their verdict.

I have had regard to all of the points made on your behalf by your counsel, and to the guidance which is available to judges in cases of this nature.

You were a man of mature years, aged 32, when you committed these offences. However I take account of the fact that there was no evidence at trial to suggest that you enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle and the fact that, although you have previous convictions for possession of controlled drugs, including cocaine, you have no previous convictions for offences relating to drug-dealing or involvement in serious organised crime.

It is clear that only a significant custodial sentence would be appropriate in this case. The two offences of which you were convicted are closely connected in time and circumstances. It seems to me that your involvement in serious organised crime was the practical basis for your involvement in the supply of cocaine, and that your involvement in the supply of cocaine was the principal, although not sole, objective of your involvement in serious organised crime. For these reasons, I intend to impose a single ‘cumulo’ sentence of imprisonment covering both charges, instead of imposing separate sentences for each charge.  

A sentence of eight years’ imprisonment covering both charges is appropriate in your case. That sentence will run from 26 February 2024, when you were first remanded in custody following your conviction.  

Because of the close connection between the circumstances of these offences, and the fact that I have reflected your involvement in serious organised crime in the sentence which I have imposed to cover both charges, I do not intend to increase that sentence in consequence of the statutory aggravation which applies to charge 2.”