Appeal No: 2788/97
HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY
OPINION OF THE COURT
THE HONOURABLE LORD PROSSER
APPEAL BY STATED CASE
GRAEME WILLIAM MAIN
PROCURATOR FISCAL, CUPAR
Appellant: Scott, Drummond Miller
Respondent: Solicitor General, Crown Agent
23 February 1999
This is an appeal by way of stated case by Graeme William Main. He stood trial in the Sheriff Court at Cupar and was subsequently sentenced on 13 October 1997 in respect of three charges of supplying cannabis resin. The sentence was a cumulo one of six months and an appeal in respect of sentence is not proceeding.
The three charges related to supply to three persons on what was effectively a single occasion. In addition to these charges, there was another charge of simple possession to which the appellant had pled guilty. The only point raised by the appeal is whether there was sufficient evidence to identify the material which was supplied on the three charges which went to trial to identify it as cannabis resin. The point taken when the stated case was sought was an absence of expert opinion on that matter. However when the matter proceeded before us it was accepted that expert opinion evidence is not required and that lay opinion may well suffice. Reference was made to McCallum v McKay 1997 S.C.C.R. 558 in which it appears that visual evidence from lay persons experienced with the material sufficed.
In the present case the persons to whom the material was supplied were three young boys. It is said in the findings in fact that they asked the appellant if they could buy cannabis resin from him. It is therefore plain that it was their expectation that that is what he would supply them with. The appellant did supply material and received between £8 and £10 for it and it is found that the three boys then proceeded thereafter to smoke it. One of them smelt the substance and it is found on the basis of his evidence that it had a similar smell to cannabis which he had smoked on a previous occasion. Moreover the material covered by the charge on which there was a plea of guilty was available and the three boys all identified it as looking like the substance which they had purchased. It was moreover found that that material was indeed cannabis resin.
The submission was that this evidence fell short of what was required for lay identification of the material. We are satisfied that the evidence available was amply sufficient to identify the material. There was evidence of expectation, and of the buyers not being dissatisfied, in as much as they smoked it. There is evidence from the boy who smelt it and there is the evidence of visual similarity from all three of them when the material was judged against what is known to be cannabis resin.
In the whole circumstances we are satisfied that there was amply sufficient evidence and the appeal fails. The questions are accordingly answered to that effect.