£2.3million cocaine haul dad has jail time cut after admitting working only one day as drug courier

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James Duffy’s prison time was reduced to seven and half years after he admitted being involved in the vile trade for just a single day.

A man caught with cocaine worth £2.3 million started taking drugs to deal with the pressures caused by his partner suffering three miscarriages, a court has heard.

James Duffy, 32, says started consuming narcotics to deal with the pressures caused by his partner repeatedly losing babies.

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh heard how Duffy, of East Kilbride developed a habit and owed £24,000 to drug dealers.

Defence advocate Louise Arrol told judges Lord Menzies and Lord Turnbull how Duffy became a courier in a bid to pay off his debts.

However, his actions led to him being arrested to police and being given a nine year sentence at the High Court in Glasgow in October 2020.

On Tuesday, Ms Arrol told the court that the judge who sentenced Duffy – Lord Armstrong – made errors in how he sentenced her client.

She said Lord Armstrong failed to properly consider Duffy’s personal circumstances and the fact that he pleaded guilty to only being involved in the drugs trade for one day.

Ms Arrol said that if Lord Armstrong had considered these factors, he would have imposed a lesser sentence on Duffy.

On Tuesday, Lord Menzies and Lord Turnbull agreed with the submissions made by Ms Arrol and reduced Duffy’s sentence to seven and a half years.

Lord Menzies said: “We are persuaded that the sentence of nine years imposed in this case was indeed excessive.

“In our view given that the libel against the accused was limited to one day – July 17 2019 – the sentence of nine years is one we consider is more appropriate to a person who has involvement in the drugs trade over a period of time.”

Duffy pleaded guilty to being involved in supplying cocaine at the High Court in Glasgow last year.

Prosecutor Shirley McKenna told the court how the accused was snared by detectives.

A van along with two properties in the town were then searched.

The High Court in Glasgow heard a total of more than six kilos of the drug were seized.

The cocaine had a purity as high as 77 per cent.

Duffy had agreed to become involved in the drugs trade to help out his substantial debts.

Ms McKenna said DNA also helped link Duffy to the haul which drug experts estimated had a maximum street value £2.3m.

On that occasion, Ms Arrol said the construction worker and dad-of-one had a cocaine addiction.

Passing sentence, Lord Armstrong said: “The quantity and value of the drugs recovered was significant. The money involved indicates you were concerned in operations.

“The court has repeatedly made clear anyone who chooses to become involved in high-value controlled drugs in any capacity must expect a substantial custodial sentence.”

On Tuesday, Ms Arrol told the appeal court that her client had a good work record and that he had supported his partner.

She added: “The appellant’s partner suffered three miscarriages and this caused him to start taking illegal drugs and he accruing debts of £24,000.

“This led to his involvement in the drugs trade.”

Ms Arrol said that her client pleaded guilty to a charge which stated that he had only been involved in the drugs trade for one day. She said that Lord Armstrong should have considered this and Duffy’s personal circumstances before imposing sentence.

Ms Arrol said: “It is my submission that the sentence selected by the sentencing judge in this case was excessive.”

The appeal judges agreed and ordered Duffy’s sentence to be cut.

Lord Menzies added: “We are indeed persuaded that the sentence was excessive and we shall quash the sentence imposed on October 15 2020 and substitute it for a sentence of seven years and six months.”

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