THE case of an Alexandria man convicted of dealing cocaine descended into a row between his solicitor and a sheriff.

Gary Cairns, 26, had previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply after a police search warrant found 31.99g of the Class A drug.

According to prosecutors, the cocaine was worth about £700 wholesale, or £1,820 if split into individual deals.

There was also Benzocaine, which is used to cut drugs, and a set of scales with traces of powder on them.

Police also recovered £510 in mixed notes in Cairns’ wallet at the property on June 22, 2018, in Main Street, Alexandria.

Defence solicitor Paul Sweeney told Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday that his client was a dad of one working as a security engineer.

He said: “He accepts full responsibility for his involvement in the crime. My impression is he is an immature young man.

“He and friends were going to a festival and he was the one who had drugs in his possession.”

Mr Sweeney said the Benzocaine had been in his flat for some months in advance.

But Sheriff John Hamilton replied: “Why would anyone who was not a dentist have Benzocaine?”

Cairns’ solicitor didn’t have an explanation.

The sheriff continued to press: “Why would he have cash in his wallet, why scales?”

Mr Sweeney said: “Everyone has scales in their kitchen.”

“With cocaine on it?” replied Sheriff Hamilton.

Mr Sweeney said if his client was going to a festival, he would not have taken a big rock of cocaine. He said police found no tick list and no phone list to indicate commercial supply.

But the sheriff pressed on: “It’s not just, ‘I have got this for my pals’ because he has a cutting agent and a set of scales.

“If it’s for social supply, why weigh it? Have you ever heard of someone weighing for social supply?”

“In my job I do, yes,” replied Mr Sweeney.

“I’m not accepting your account that this is non-commercial supply,” said the sheriff, who was arguing there would need to be a proof in mitigation hearing.

“I think we are at an impasse. I’m not being difficult. The law says that’s what I have to do.”

But Mr Sweeney, his volume rising, said: “That’s how the Crown decided to prosecute the case. Your Lordship seems to be assuming this is something it’s not.

“That’s what he pleaded guilty to.”

Sheriff Hamilton said: “Can you calm down a bit? He pleaded guilty to intent to supply. You’re putting forward that it’s social. There’s no social in the libel, there’s no social in the legislation.

“If I can’t accept your position, I have to fix a proof in mitigation.”

There will now be a hearing on December 5 which may include witnesses, such as Cairns’ pals who were going to the festival.

The case is not the first to involve a dispute in Dumbarton Sheriff Court over drug supply.

There is no distinction between commercial or social supply of drugs except the level of court where the Crown brings the case. It then becomes a matter for defence solicitors to argue whether clients were dealing - and whether sheriffs believe the excuse.

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