Single mum spared jail after dealing cocaine to pay off brother’s drugs debt

A single mum who claimed she dealt cocaine to pay off a drugs debt that she “inherited” from her brother has been spared jail.

Maria Stewart, 30, was caught with a white powder, weighing scales, ziplock bags, mobile phones and cash at her home, when police searched the property in Beauly.

Her solicitor told the court that Stewart turned to drug dealing to pay off the debt.

Stewart appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court for sentencing, having previously pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug.

A previous hearing was told that police had executed a search warrant at the accused’s home address on Station Road, Beauly on January 22 last year.

‘Variety of paraphernalia seized’

Fiscal depute Emma MacEwan said that officers “seized a variety of paraphernalia” at Stewart’s home.

The evidence recovered included ziplock bags, weighing scales, mobile phones and cash as well as a notepad containing a “tick list”.

A box of white powder confiscated during the search was later confirmed to contain 13.1 grams of cocaine.

Speaking on Stewart’s behalf, solicitor Rory Gowans said his client had shown “genuine contrition” about her actions.

He explained: “During an interview with police, she indicated that she had inherited a drug debt from her brother and she dealt cocaine to pay the debt”.

Explanation was ‘not good enough’

Sheriff Gary Aitken warned Stewart:  “There are only two options here – a considerable amount of unpaid work or the jail”.

At the time, the sheriff deferred sentencing Stewart to allow her to make “whatever arrangements” she considered “appropriate”.

When she returned to the dock for her latest court appearance, Sheriff Sara Matheson spared the 30-year-old a prison term.

Instead, the sheriff imposed a community payback order on Stewart, who must also carry out 240 hours of unpaid work.

Sheriff Matheson told her: “You should be under no illusion, that was an exceptionally serious charge that you pled guilty to and your explanation of how you got yourself into this situation is not good enough”.

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