An Aberdeen pensioner visiting a pal in jail was “swarmed by the police drugs squad” and strip searched after officers got a false tip-off, a court heard.
Alistair Wright, 75, arrived to visit family friend Jade Duncan at HMP Grampian in April 2017, and was encircled by police who searched his car for drugs, Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard yesterday.
The court heard someone wrote to police falsely stating Mr Wright was smuggling drugs into the north-east superjail – sparking the search.
He was giving evidence on the first day of Cheryl Mitchell’s trial, who is accused of attempted fraud.
The Crown alleges Mitchell, 36, impersonated a prison officer, phoned Mr Wright and told him Ms Duncan owed “Scousers” an £80,000 drug debt, telling him a Liverpool man wrote the letter.
The Crown alleges Mitchell wrote the letter to persuade Mr Wright to hand over £7,500 in cash.
Retired haulage contractor Mr Wright told a jury he was then taken to Kittybrewster Police Office, strip searched and put in a cell before being released without charge.
Mr Wright, whose wife died 16 years ago, said police obtained a search warrant for his Aberdeen home but did not execute it.
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In court, Mr Wright said: “I was shocked when I arrived at the prison. I had a swarm of people around me. It was the police drugs squad.
“I didn’t get to visit Jade. I was taken to Kittybrewster. Police strip-searched me and put me in the cells. For that to happen at aged 73, it was shocking. I understand the police were just doing their job though.”
In a recording of a phone call played to the court, a woman who claims to be an operations officer working at the prison said to Mr Wright: “The letter I have seen contains that you have been supplying her with drugs.
“She could get up to a year (in prison) for it.
“I know she is due someone money and is trying to get it together. It’s owed to a certain guy. He is maybe the one saying things to the police.
“I think if she got him paid off she won’t go down for this. Could you not pay it off for her? My brother works for police. I’m trying to do this off my own back for you.
“I’m trying to help you. I’m putting my job on the line here.”
Defence agent John McLeod asked Mr Wright: “How do you know for sure the author of the letter was the same person who made the phone calls?”
He replied: “I don’t.”
Mitchell denies attempting to induce Mr Wright to transfer £7,500 and, in doing so, attempting to defraud him. The trial continues.