Student from Wick had £10k of cocaine and cannabis on train
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A 21-year-old university student from Wick who was caught with £10,500 worth of cocaine and cannabis after a Christmas Eve train journey has avoided a jail sentence.
Sheriff Gary Aitken decided against a custodial sentence for Marcus Long because he was in his final year of his honours degree in Edinburgh and had removed himself from the drug scene and a negative peer group.
At Inverness Sheriff Court on Wednesday, Sheriff Aitken told Long that if he had not taken these steps he would be going to jail. Instead he imposed 150 hours of unpaid work.
"In recognition of this, I will deal with a community payback order as an alternative," the sheriff said. "But you will need to get your outstanding hours and the hours I am imposing today done and you may have to be patient given the current difficulties.
"I sincerely hope I will never see you again, you get your degree and get on with your life."
Defence solicitor Graham Mann urged Sheriff Aitken to treat his client differently from some other offenders.
"He seems to have straightened himself out and is in the final stages of his education at a well-respected university," Mr Mann said. "This shows application and determination. I think he deserves some special treatment."
At a previous hearing the court was told that Long had travelled north from Edinburgh on a train in December 2018 and then met up with 22-year-old Darren Stewart, of Grantown-on-Spey, who has already been dealt with by the imposition of a similar punishment.
The pair drove to Inverness. But the court heard that police received a tip-off about the festive delivery of 60 grams of cocaine and 450 grams of cannabis and intercepted Stewart's car in the city's Bank Street.
Inside, they found a holdall containing the illicit drugs, a CS gas canister belonging to Stewart and £900 of cash in back-seat passenger Long's possession.
Long admitted being concerned in the supply of drugs and Stewart pleaded guilty to possessing the canister, which is deemed in law as a firearm as it can discharge a noxious liquid. He also admitted previous convictions which included two for drugs possession and an assault to severe injury for which he was sent to detention by Wick Sheriff Court.
Fiscal depute Karen Aitken said police examined CCTV footage from a Glasgow to Aviemore train showing both men, with Long having the holdall for the duration of the journey.
Sheriff Aitken also forfeited the £900 in cash.