A CRIMINAL from north of the border has admitted being part of a drugs supply plot that peddled “large quantities" of illegal substances and had links to Carlisle.

At the city’s crown court, Bailey Highton, 23, pleaded guilty to five charges covering his link to the illicit trade in England in four drugs – heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, and Ketamine.

The prosecution accepted his not guilty plea to the alleged the supply of benzodiazepines.

The crimes committed by Highton, from Station Rad, Blantyre, Glasgow, include one linking him to Carlisle man Robert Smith, described by senior detectives as the head of an organised crime group specialising in drugs.

In Court, Highton admitted the following:

  • Conspiring with Robert Smith to supply heroin between July 1, 2220, and November 13, 2022.
  • Being concerned in the supply of heroin between January 1, 2022 and February ;8, 2023.
  • Being concerned in the supply of cocaine between the same dates as in count two.
  • Being concerned in the supply of ketamine, again over the same timescale.
  • And being concerned in the supply of amphetamine during his period.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke said the defendant's not guilty plea to the allegation that he was concerned in supplying benzodiazepines was acceptable.

Andrew Evans, for Highton, said the admitted charges arose from an analysis of phone evidence and related to him “delivering” drugs south of the border. The defence case is that Highton was nothing more than a trusted courier.

“He was trusted to deliver large amounts country wide,” said Mr Evans. "But they were not his drugs."

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Mr Burke said the prosecution was unlikely to accept that claim and, referring the court to the case of Robert Smith, the barrister said it may be argued that Highton was a “much more serious operator” than just being a courier.

Lawyers will have to consider the evidence, he said.

Granting the defendant bail, Judge Nicholas Barker told Highton: “You have pleaded guilty to these counts and because your pleas are entered there will not need to be a trial. You have admitted your guilt…

“You say you were just a courier but, in some way closely connected to Robert Smith; that you were just a paid hand to do what he asked you to do. It seems the prosecution are not likely to accept that.

"They will no doubt consider it.”

Highton must return to court on February 23 when a decision will be made about whether there needs to be a fact-finding hearing with evidence before a judge.

The judge will have to decide whether Highton played a leading role in the drugs conspiracy, directing others; or whether he was indeed just a courier, acting under direction.

“The distinction between those two [roles] would make a difference to the length of the sentence which is imposed,” added Judge Barker.