A SHERIFF issued a stern warning to Liverpool gangs that they would be severely dealt with by courts for trying to bring drugs into the Highlands.
Sheriff Margaret Neilson jailed a man for three years and four months who was searched by police and found to be concealing heroin in plastic bags in his back passage and a sim card in the foreskin of his penis.
Unemployed Joseph Hatton (31) was stopped on the A9 at Moy in a car with two accomplices. All three were carrying heroin secreted in their bodies.
Thomas Kerwin and Daniel Kewley, also both from Liverpool, have previously been sentenced for being in possession of the class A drug diamorphine (heroin) with intent to supply on May 26 and 27 on the A9, at Burnett Road police station, Inverness and elsewhere in the Highlands.
Hatton appeared for sentence on the same charge on Tuesday at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Procurator Fiscal Sharon Ralph said Hatton had been kept under constant supervision until he had a bowel movement when he passed a package and he confirmed it was heroin.
Mrs Ralph said he also had a SIM card for a mobile phone under his foreskin.
"He was asked why it was there and he said he was hiding it," the fiscal added.
The total value of heroin recovered from the three men was worth £18,000 and the package found on Hatton had a value of between £2,760 and £3,680 the court was told.
The fiscal said Hatton had told police he was offered £150 to take the package to Inverness and he claimed he was only a courier.
Kerwin, she said had previously been jailed for two years and Kewley for 20 months for their role in the enterprise.
Solicitor Eddie Kelly said Hatton was in a receipt of state benefits and he didn’t know the intended recipients but he had a remit to deliver the drugs to a specific place.
Mr Kelly said Kerwin had £11,000 worth of heroin concealed on him and Hatton had the smallest package.
Sheriff Neilson told Hatton he had pleaded guilty to a very serious offence and noted unlike his accomplices he had a bad record for drugs related offences including one for possession with intent to supply in 2002.
"You deliberately took heroin from whoever supplied it to you and concealed it in your body. You have a bad record with relation to drugs. You decided to take a risk and a significant amount of heroin did not reach the streets of Inverness thanks to the vigilance of the police.
"This is a particular problem in this sheriffdom which is being specifically targeted by drug dealers in Liverpool area using couriers like yourself.
"There needs to be a deterrent to prevent dealers from the Liverpool area target Inverness with this vile trade."