Business

Scottish drugs-front waste firm sentenced

Sarah Nisbet, a former director of a Scottish waste management company that was used as a front for a million-pound heroin smuggling ring, has been sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and an 18-month supervision order for waste offences.

James Nesbit was convicted in 2015
Platinum Waste Solutions was established by Sarah Nisbet’s husband James Nisbet in Shotts in North Lanarkshire as a way of smuggling the class A drug around Scotland. It was the subject of Police Scotland’s Operation Lapstone last year, leading to the conviction of Mr Nisbet and six others in October 2015 for a combined sentence of 48 years and 10 months.

The operation recovered £1.1-million-worth of heroin and £56,000 of amphetamine and found that the company’s undercover dealings had been coordinated by Mr Nisbet’s brother Stephen, currently serving an 18-year prison sentence for murder.

The investigation also uncovered a number of environmental offences being carried out on the company’s site, for which former Director Ms Nisbet was prosecuted at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Monday (19 December).

A series of inspections by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) officers carried out in January 2014 found that skips full of mixed waste containing construction and demolition materials and household waste had been stored at the site, breaching the requirements of the licensing exemptions registered to the company.

A subsequent SEPA investigation also found that four-months of waste transfer notes, a record that must be completed whenever a load of waste is moved, had not been filled in correctly, with information such as the quantity of waste left blank.

Ms Nisbet pled guilty on 5 June 2015 to a charge of storing waste at the company’s site over the period from January to August 2014, without the proper authorisation from SEPA. The company, which has now been dissolved, also pled guilty to a charge of failing to adequately complete the waste transfer notes.

Scottish drugs-front waste firm sentenced
Despite pleading guilty more than 18 months ago, Ms Nisbet was only this week sentenced to undertake 200 hours unpaid work within a six-month period and supervision for 18 months as an alternative to a custodial sentence.

Waste industry being penetrated by organised crime

Commenting on the case, Calum MacDonald, Executive Director of SEPA and Chair of Interpol’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee, said: “The sentence that sends out a clear message that environmental crime in Scotland will not be tolerated. Compliance for regulated businesses is non-negotiable and we will continue to take proportionate and effective action to tackle and disrupt environmental crime activity that has or has the potential to damage the environment.

“This outcome is also a tangible demonstration of successful collaborative working with Police Scotland and early evidence of the benefits of SEPA embedding staff within the Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh.

“The Scottish Government’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy highlights penetration by serious organised crime groups in legitimate business sectors as a new threat, specifically identifying the waste industry as a target of this criminal activity in Scotland.

“Operation Lapstone provided clear evidence that that [sic] this threat is manifest and we will continue to work with the police and our other partners within the Environmental Crime Taskforce to tackle these individuals and groups to combat the threat posed on the legitimate industry within Scotland.”

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