A FORMER Hibs footballer was facing a lengthy jail sentence today after he was caught with the largest haul of heroin seized by Lothian and Borders police.
Kris Brown was in a drugs factory “chopping shop” with two accomplices when police forced their way in with a battering ram and found the heroin worth £1.7 million on the streets.
Pressed blocks of the Class A drug ready for distribution to dealers were found on a shelf in a kitchen cupboard in the upper flat with another full of 250gm bags of heroin ready to be compressed in a mould.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that the man who rented the flat, Lee Knott, told officers during the search: “Wait ‘til you see the other cupboard.”
Officers found powder “all over the place”, the drugs trial heard.
They recovered a hydraulic press for moulding the drug in a bedroom, along with mixing equipment and adulterants such as paracetamol for bulking out the drug.
Brown, 29, had denied being concerned in the supply of heroin but was unanimously convicted of the offence by a jury.
He was also convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine and mephedrone and of possessing cocaine.
The judge, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, told him: “You have convicted unanimously of the very serious charge of being concerned in the supply of heroin. We have heard this was the largest find of diamorphine in Lothian and Borders and that this could constitute 170,000 deals at street level.”
“You are facing a very considerable period of imprisonment as a result of both the conviction on that charge and the other charges,” he said.
The jury at the drugs trial were shown footage of the flat at Sighthill View, in Edinburgh, following the police raid.
Detective Sergeant Charles Selcraig, 56, who has 32 years’ experience, said: “This is the largest recovery of heroin I have seen in Lothian and Borders in my service.”
“I have absolutely no doubt what we are seeing here is a chopping shop operation. Drugs of a higher purity are being adulterated into a lower purity for onward supply to other dealers,” he said.
“It is a wholesale operation. This is organised. This is not haphazard,” he said.
“People involved in this operation have to be trusted. They have control of significant amounts of drugs,” he said.
A total of 17.2 kilos of the Class A drug were found in the flat. A ticklist headed with C for cocaine and PH for plant food, a street name for the Class B drug mephedrone was also discovered.
A line of chopped up cocaine was laid out on a work top in the kitchen with a rolled up banknote and a card in the name of Brown.
Mobile phones were also seized and analysed and Brown’s phone was found to have been used to send a message saying it was coming on Wednesday and it was meant to be a huge amount and better.
Brown who was in the flat with Knott, 23, and co-accused Iain Hunter, 22, when police raided it shortly after midnight on December 16 in 2010 had denied any involvement with the heroin.
He said: “I didn’t know anything about the drugs until police told me there were copious amounts of heroin found inside the property. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He told the court: “I am not guilty of touching any heroin. mixing any heroin, selling any heroin.”
He denied advocate depute Stephen O’Rourke’s accusation that he was organising the shipment of the huge haul of heroin to arrive at the flat.
The lift engineer said his apprentice Knott had used his mobile phone and he knew that the younger man sold cocaine and “plant food”.
He said he was planning to stay overnight at the flat and did not know how his fingerprints were on a sandwich bag which tested positive for heroin.
Brown, of Slateford Road, in Edinburgh, was found with cocaine and admitted her had used the Class A drug for about 10 years. He told police he had previously played professional football at Hibs but did not get on with former manager Alex McLeish.
Knott, of Calder Gardens, in Edinburgh, pleaded guilty during the trial to being concerned in the supply of heroin, cocaine and mephedrone and Hunter, of Sighthill Green, Edinburgh, admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin.
Hunter told police that he had been “house sitting” for his friend Knott for a few days. Brown and Knott had been working in Ayrshire but returned to Edinburgh hours before the police raid was launched after intelligence was received.
When officers went into the property they came across Knott who seemed “quite shock” and found the others in a bedroom and the living room.
Knott told the court that the drugs had been dropped off at the flat but he could not remember when. He said he was mixing up the heroin and putting it in the press on his own.
He said that Brown had keys for his flat in case he lost his own set.
Knott said threats had been made and told the court: “I was forced into the situation. I didn’t want to be in it.”
The judge deferred sentence on all three men for the preparation of reports and they were remanded in custody.