2 November 2007
This addresses sentencing levels for those involved in a minor way with large scale drug operations.
Nature of the case
This case is about the level of sentence that should be given to a person who is involved at a relatively low level in large scale drug production.
Zhi Pen Lin pleaded guilty to an offence under section 4(1)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the production of a controlled drug. Mr Lin was an illegal immigrant from China who had been living and working on a cannabis farm. The operation was described as a large one (worth around £84,900), but Mr Lin was described by the court as a “gardener”, whose involvement was “minor”.
He was sentenced to three years and nine months by the sheriff (discounted from five years for his early guilty plea). Mr Lin appealed against that sentence as being excessive.
The maximum penalty for a conviction on indictment for the offence of production of a controlled drug is 14 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine. This is a wide sentencing range, and the court noted that “there has been a degree of disparity, at least in the High Court, in the sentences so far pronounced on persons convicted of relatively minor involvement in such activity”. For that reason, the High Court decided to issue a guideline judgment in this case.
The judges decided that:
 paragraph 10 of the decision