Gun sentencing hailed as success for new joint team

14 Jan 2019 02:03 PM

The sentencing of a man for importing a firearm from the United States is being hailed as the first major success for the recently formed Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland).

The Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland) looks to build on the already strong relationship between the National Crime Agency and Police Scotland. It is anticipated that combining the skills of specialist officers from both organisations will strengthen existing relationships and build on the successes achieved to date.

The ambition and international reach provided by this exciting new partnership will introduce a formidable capability pointed towards national priorities and those involved at the highest levels of criminality both in Scotland and those who impact on Scotland from overseas locations.  

The OCP(S) will see increased collaboration and co-operation between the NCA, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to identify and investigate individuals involved in a range of organised crime offences and ensure they are brought to justice.

All OCP(S) investigative activity, which will be conducted by Police Scotland and NCA will be authorised by COPFS, who will play a vital role in supporting the enhanced efforts to tackle serious and organised crime.

David Mitchell (right) from Edinburgh was subject of an OCP(S) inquiry in September 2018 after he purchased a Glock semi-automatic handgun and ammunition from America and tried to have it delivered to Scotland.

Through close co-operation with international partners, including US Homeland Security, the OCP(S) conducted inquiries at an address in Pitreavie Court, Dunfermline and Damside, Edinburgh - both of which were linked to Mitchell.

The 48-year-old was subsequently arrested and charged and then convicted on 5 December 2018. At Edinburgh High Court on Monday 14 January he was jailed for five years.

Speaking following the sentencing NCA regional head of investigations Rob Burgess yesterday said: 

“This conviction is an important milestone for law enforcement in Scotland, and results like this show what can be achieved by close working between the NCA and Police Scotland.

“There is a strong link between illegal drugs supply and the use of firearms, with criminals seeking them to intimidate rivals and enforce control of criminal operations.

“This is why preventing the type of weapon Mitchell tried to buy from reaching the streets is a priority for law enforcement nationally.

“The operation of the OCP(S) gives us new avenues and opportunities to tackle organised crime in Scotland, and those involved in that type of criminality should be fearful. We will be relentless in pursuing them.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean from Police Scotland's Specialist Crime Division yesterday said:

"David Mitchell tried to bypass Scottish, UK and American laws as he attempted to purchase a dangerous firearm and bring it into this country.

"The Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland), which launched on 1st September 2018, took on this inquiry and saw officers from Police Scotland and NCA using a range of specialist skills to investigate Mitchell before enforcement activity was conducted at two properties linked to him.

"His sentence should serve as a reminder that organised crime offences will not be tolerated.

"The OCP(S) provides an increased capability for the investigation and detection of organised crime and we look forward to this group garnering further success in bringing offenders to justice."

Andrew Laing, Deputy Procurator Fiscal Specialist Casework, COPFS yesterday said:

“The Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland) demonstrates the ability of the police, the NCA and prosecutors to investigate, prepare and prosecute serious and organised crime of this nature and the partnership will play a vital role in keeping our communities safe.

“This was an organised and premeditated effort to bring an illegal firearm, ammunition and silencer into Scotland and the conviction and sentence granted for David Mitchell sends a strong message to others that this kind of criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

“The Crown will continue to work with the police NCA and other partners to ensure that such crimes are investigated and those responsible are prosecuted using all measures at our disposal in order to reduce the harm caused by serious crime.”