Lanarkshire drug trafficker jailed for five-and-a-half years has conviction overturned

An Airdrie man jailed for drug trafficking had his conviction overturned after the judge at his trial failed to give jurors proper instructions over an interview he gave to police.

Patrick Hattie, 52, was sent to prison for five-and-a-half years in 2021 after police recovered cocaine, cannabis resin and herbal cannabis worth £2 million.

Hattie, who ran a body repair shop in his home town and rented a yard at Shotts, was sentenced alongside a co-accused, former transport police inspector David Brown, 51, who was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

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Brown, of Carfin, drove a van containing the drug to Cairnryan where ferries left for Ireland in December 2018 where police intercepted the haul.

A third accused, haulage firm boss Laurence Phee, of Airdrie, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years at a separate hearing after he admitted drug charges.

During his trial Hattie had denied being concerned in the supply of the drugs and after he was found guilty launched an appeal against his conviction which centered on the adequacy of directions given by the trial judge, Lord Summers, to jurors.

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But during a hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told judges that the Crown could not support the conviction against Hattie.

It was accepted that the trial judge had completely failed to direct the jury on the use that could be made of an interview Hattie gave to police.

It was said that while in some cases such failure may not result in a miscarriage of justice that was not “a tenable proposition” in Hattie’s case.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, who heard the appeal with Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews, said: “The court agreed with the advocate depute and concluded the appeal had to succeed.”

Hattie did not give evidence at his trial but his interview with the police was played to the jury. In it he said he loaned Brown £200 to hire a van.

It was to help Brown get back on his feet and he said he understood he had a parcel delivery job driving. He said he had no idea where the van went after it was hired.

When he was told that the police found a large gray container with the drugs inside during a search of the vehicle he maintained he had never seen such a container at his properties.

He said: “Honest to God, I don’t know a thing about it…I don’t know anything about that vehicle.”

Lady Dorrian said the “whole substance” of Hattie’s defense was contained in the police interview, but the jury was given no guidance on it.

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She said: “In our view the advocate depute was correct to say that, in the circumstances of this case, this was a material misdirection which could not be cured.”

“A verdict returned on the basis of such a serious omission can only be considered to amount to a miscarriage of justice,” said the senior judge.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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