An ex-prison guard has been jailed for 20 months after drugs worth an estimated street value of almost £500,000 were recovered from her home.
Natalie Walker, 38, was arrested and charged following an intelligence led operation back in April 2021, when Etizolam (valium) tablets were found within her bedroom in Valley Court, Hamilton.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard today (Wednesday) that the illicit haul was worth up to £498,000.
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Jennifer McCabe, prosecuting, told the court that police stumbled on the huge cache after getting a warrant to search the two-bedroom flat in relation to another matter.
She said: “Numerous vacuum-sealed bags of tablets were found in a bedroom.
“Walker said she consumed drugs and admitted holding the pills as a favor for which she would receive payment of an unknown amount.
“She refused to name the person she was holding them for.”
In total there were 995,760 pills, worth £99,576 wholesale and up to £497,880 if sold on the street.
Defense agent Sandy Morrison said Walker, who has no previous convictions, was “realistic” about her fate, given the high value of the pills.
He added: “She has been extremely frank with social workers.
“It’s unfortunate she had reached this age without coming to the attention of the police and now finds herself in this situation.”
Passing sentence, Sheriff Colin Dunipace told Walker: “You have lived a useful life and have undertaken worthwhile employment. You were a prison officer for a number of years.
“However, this was a considerable amount of drugs with a very high street value.
“This particular drug contributes to a large number of deaths in the west of Scotland. It’s my duty to protect the public.”
The sentence was cut from 30 months because of Walker’s guilty plea.
Walker also faces a Crown move to recover cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act at a later date.
Following the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Gary Crossan, of Lanarkshire CID, welcomed the outcome.
He said: “As a result of excellent police work a significant quantity of drugs were removed from our streets and the perpetrator has now been jailed.
“Officers are committed to tackling the harmful supply of drugs within our communities and we will act on any information that will help trace those involved in the distribution of these illegal substances.
“I would ask if anyone with knowledge of drugs or who has any concerns about this kind of crime to get in touch with us via 101 or by making a report anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.