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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
James Mulholland 

Lanarkshire dog breeder is drug dealing gangster linked to organised crime

A dog breeder had a secret double life as a drug dealer who conducted his trade with an encrypted phone.

Scott Bennett, 41, was snared after police became aware of animal welfare concerns at his company Platinum Pet Care and K9 Fertility in Lanarkshire.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how detectives discovered cocaine with a street value of £23,000 and cannabis worth £49,250 after arriving at Bennett’s office.

READ MORE: Rape victim secretly recorded attacker's confession on her mobile phone

The court also heard how Bennett had been using a phone which had the encrypted EncroChat app installed on it. The police analysed the device and discovered that he owed tens of thousands of pounds to other suspected drug dealers.

The chat app used by Bennett was was popularised by gangsters across Europe who used it to conduct their business. However, it was disrupted inn January 2020 after French and Dutch officers gained access to EncroChat’s servers.

The foreign law enforcement operation managed to access messages and information about criminals which was shared with the UK’S National Crime Agency which launched Operation Venetic.

The court heard how one user on the app was called ‘Original Syrup’ and Scottish police managed to establish that this user was Scott Bennett.

Prosecutor Angela Gray told judge Lord Mulholland about the messages sent by Bennett on the app.

She said the messages had been studied by specialist police drugs detectives who are called STOP officers.

She added: “Within the messages from both the accused’s EncroChat device and a conventional mobile telephone, there is evidence throughout the libel of a significant exchange of both drugs and money, all involving the accused.

“For example, there is reference to Original Syrup owing £53,000 to somebody called landcleaner. “There is another conversation were Original Syrup offers cocaine for £40,000 and Original Syrup advises another user that he is in a deficit of £50,000.

“There is also a conversation in which the accused indicates that he owes more than 17 balls.

“STOP officers have indicated that one ounce of cocaine would equate to one ball worth around £1,600 - 17 balls would amount to 476 grammes worth of cocaine that the accused owed which amounts to £27,200.”

The story emerged after Bennett, of Chapleton, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and cannabis between March 2020 and October 2021.

He also admitted that his actions were aggravated by a connection to serious organised crime.

In December 2021, police also launched an investigation after Bennett’s business in Strathaven was firebombed.

Pictures taken at the scene showed emergency services in attendance following the incident, with officers cordoning off the area while firefighters battled the flames.

On Tuesday, Ms Gray told the court that Bennett had previous convictions for road traffic offences, possession of cocaine, possessing a knife and assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

He also has previous convictions for fraud, robbery, and possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Speaking about the circumstances leading to Bennett’s arrest, Ms Gray said: “The start date of the offences is March 28, 2020 as that is the earliest date of the EncroChat messages recovered.

“The end date is the day the drugs were recovered at the accused’s business premises, October 21, 2020.

“After the search of the accused’s work premises, the EncroChat user handle Original Syrup was attributed to the accused.

“This was achieved from a combination of cell site analysis - the device was being used near to the accused’s home and his work address, an examination of the contacts stored on the device - family members of the accused; and messages sent from the device which included photographs taken at the accused’s home and workplace.”

Ms Gray said that because Bennett had admitted a link to serious organised crime, the Crown would be wanting the court to impose a serious organised crime prevention order.

Defence advocate John Scullion QC told Lord Mulholland that he’d reserve his mitigation to a future hearing.

Lord Mulholland deferred sentence for the court to obtain reports.

He told Bennett: “You will be remanded in custody.”

Bennett will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on August 23.


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