Bo’ness drug pusher has sentence halved

Lord Bracadale cut Johnston's sentence in half from 18 to nine months
Lord Bracadale cut Johnston's sentence in half from 18 to nine months

A former manager of a support service for addicts who became a drug pusher had her jail sentence cut in half this week.

Lawyers acting for Jacqueline Johnston (52) went to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh earlier this year in a bid to overturn a jury’s guilty verdict.

Johnston was jailed for 18 months in March for being involved in the trading of amphetamines and a Class C substance at 32 Baptie Place, Bo’ness three years ago.

She had previously held a senior position with Signpost Recovery, a service in the Forth Valley for those coping with substance abuse.

Her lawyers claimed she was a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Solicitor advocate Simon Collins argued that a police officer who claimed to be an expert in the drugs trade was not suitably qualified to give evidence.

Mr Collins told appeal judges Lady Paton, Lord Bracadale and Lord Malcolm that the officer, who was not named in court, should not have given evidence as an expert because he didn’t have enough knowledge of the drugs trade.

He said the officer’s evidence prejudiced the case against Johnston.

He added: “He had very little experience and knowledge of the area.”

On Wednesday this week, appeal judges ruled that Johnston’s conviction was safe. However, the judges also agreed that her sentence should be cut from 18 months to nine months.

In a written judgement issued at the appeal court, Lord Bracadale stated: “We shall allow the appeal to the extent of quashing the sentence of 18 months imprisonment and substituting therefore a sentence of nine months imprisonment.”

Johnston’s crimes came to light when police raided her home on December 6, 2012 and recovered £3600 worth of drugs.

Following a three-week trial she was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of amphetamine on December 6, 2012, and, between May 28 and December 6, 2012, of being concerned in the supply of Class C substance phenazepam.

When Sheriff Kenneth McGowan passed sentence at Falkirk Sheriff Court, defence solicitor Murray Aitken said: “The impact of this conviction is significant for her. She has had quite a spectacular fall from grace.

“She is well known in Bo’ness and her standing in that community has been ruined.”

At the time Police Scotland Inspector Christopher Stewart said: “This was a significant recovery in the Central Scotland area and we welcome the sentencing of Jacqueline Johnston.”