Pubdate: Wed, 30 Jun 2004
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2004
Author: Brian Horne
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


Former Bay City Rollers boss Tam Paton's record fine for drug offences
has started a legal row.

Prosecutors say the pop promoter turned property tycoon should not
have been ordered to pay a UKP 200,000 penalty before they had been
given time to go through his books in search of possible profits from

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, Scotland's top law officer, is appealing
against the way the fine was imposed by judge Roderick Macdonald QC.

The new twist emerged at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday when
Paton, 65, appeared briefly in connection with a Crown investigation
into his substantial assets.

Defence advocate Frances Connor asked for the probe, known as
confiscation proceedings, to be delayed for three months, until the
outcome of the Crown appeal was known.

In April, Paton - worth an estimated UKP 5.2 million and earning UKP
20,000 a month - shrugged off the fine, saying: "It is a lot, but not
a lot to me." He said he would rather have seen the money go to an
orphanage or some other good cause.

Paton had halted a planned trial by admitting charges of being
concerned in the supply of cannabis resin and herbal cannabis between
January and March last year.

The judge told him his guilty pleas, and his age and continuing heart
problems, had saved him from a prison sentence.

He also told him: "The Crown have not disputed that you purchased the
drugs for yourself and those living in your house and you were not to
profit from this exercise."

Despite the acceptance that Paton was not trafficking for profit, he
still faced a demand to show that his substantial assets had been
gained honestly. A Crown Office spokesman said: "It is the fact of the
conviction, not the circumstances, which would trigger a confiscation

Investigators had the power to look at Paton's financial dealings over
the past six years, he added.

The Crown Office also confirmed that its appeal was over a point of
law and did not mean that Paton faced a possible jail sentence. It
said the judge should not have fined Paton until the confiscation
proceedings had been dealt with. "The Proceeds of Crime Act action
should have taken precedence over the fine," the spokesman said. "This
is not an appeal against an unduly lenient sentence."

In April, the High Court in Edinburgh heard that a drug squad raid on
Paton's luxury home, Little Kellerstain, on the outskirts of
Edinburgh, caught him red-handed.

He was holding a kilo of cannabis resin and claimed someone else
living in the house had thrust the bars into his hands as the officers
rushed in. Another two nine-ounce bars were in a chair where he had
been sitting.

The court heard that seizures on March 27 and January 15 last year,
taken together, amounted to UKP 25,920. On both occasions police had
been tipped off.

Paton said he was helping out his tenants. Some of the people who
rented rooms there had been offered six kilos of cannabis resin at a
bargain price of UKP 4800 and Paton had helped bankroll the deal.

Paton used cannabis to help his high blood pressure, the court

A date has still to be set for the Crown challenge.
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