A top police officer whose team snared crooks selling dangerous substances on Tayside’s high streets has revealed how their efforts helped outlaw so-called legal highs.
Chief Inspector Gordon Milne headed Operation Carinate – set up to stop the distribution of new psychoactive substances at a time when their sale was still legal.
The officer and his colleagues had to convince prosecutors that the activities of Liston Pacitti and Paul Brocklehurst at their shops in Arbroath, Montrose and Perth were putting people’s lives in danger.
The sentencing came nearly two years after the sale of numerous types of NPS was banned across the UK.
Ch Insp Milne began targeting the pair as far back as 2014 when his team carried out raids on their stores and seized cash and other items.
In an exclusive interview with the Tele, Ch Insp Milne said: “This is the first time that we have had success in prosecuting someone for selling legal highs.
“What my team did in Tayside gave evidence to our governments that brought new laws to protect our people.
“At the end of the day these guys were peddling death.
“Tuesday was the end of a very long job and the sentences are testament to the dedication and hard work of some of the best police officers and Crown officials I have ever worked with.
“I, like many others in our communities, was convinced that the supply of these substances from shops in our towns, in ways which enticed young and vulnerable people to experiment and consume them, was morally reprehensive and needed to be stopped.
“We had to make our own tools. We had to forge new ways of working together.
“We had to break new ground. But we did it. It is a fine day to finally show we did the right thing.
“Successes like this only serve to encourage our efforts.”
Pacitti, 28, of Aberdeen, and Brocklehurst, of Glen Afron, Gwynedd, Wales, previously admitted charges of culpably and recklessly supplying NPS to the danger of health and life.
Brocklehurst committed his offences between 2013 and 2015 at the This ‘N That shop in County Place, Perth, while Pacitti ran Declaration and Evape-o-lution in Brothock Bridge, Arbroath, and The High Life and Evape-o-lution in High Street, Montrose.
The pair peddled substances including the notorious synthetic cannabis Spice, along with drugs called Sky High, White Columbian and Charly Sheen.
Their actions left several people injured, including a 13-year-old boy who was rushed to hospital after taking one of the substances with heart palpitations and a racing pulse.
Following one raid on his store, cocky Pacitti said: “They may have taken the money … but there have been no charges put against me.
“Unfortunately, due to the nature of our business, we are regularly targeted by the authorities.”
Ch Insp Milne also paid tribute to Angus South MSP Graeme Dey – with whom he worked on the crackdown.
Mr Dey welcomed the sentences handed out to Pacitti and Brocklehurst and praised the diligence of investigating officers in managing to secure the conviction.
He said: “In order to remove the scourge of head shops from our high streets and deal with those who were peddling NPS, Police Scotland, particularly in Angus under the leadership of Gordon Milne, showed real determination and inventiveness.”