Former Aurigny boss tried to smuggle in cannabis

FORMER Aurigny chief executive Malcolm Hart conceded he had made the biggest mistake of his life when bringing cannabis to Guernsey concealed internally, the Royal Court heard yesterday.

Malcolm Hart. (29813661)
Malcolm Hart. (29813661)

And in sentencing him to 180 hours of community service, as a direct alternative to 12 months in prison, Bailiff Richard McMahon said that ‘if people got prizes for stupidity’ the defendant would be ‘at the head of the queue’. For someone who had had such a high-flying career, this had been a spectacular fall, he said.

The 60-year-old was arrested at Guernsey Airport on the afternoon of 11 January after he got off a flight from Southampton.

He told customs officers he was not carrying any drugs but during a search of his luggage, a clear resealable bag in his rucksack tested positive for cannabis. He then confessed to having the drug and a total of 3.68grams of the class B substance was later recovered.

Hart, who at a previous hearing had given his address as Coeur de Cobo, Rue des Renouards, Castel, admitted the importation. The court took just over an hour to agree sentence yesterday.

It heard that he was currently a director and accountable manager for two organisations and a trust company consultant. He had resigned his position on the Child Youth and Community Tribunal, which he had held since its inception in 2009, following the commission of this offence.

In interview he gave some pro-cannabis views but accepted that he knew that the drug was illegal. He said he had smoked it in other jurisdictions but never before in Guernsey.

Defending, Advocate Samuel Steel said his client wanted to make an unequivocal, full and sincere apology for what he had done. His shame, regret and remorse would extend beyond today and his employment and travel options would be limited in future now that he was no longer of previously good character.

The court heard that Hart had flown to Southampton about a month before the incident, hiring a car. He drove to see a seriously ill relative who was having medical treatment before visiting a terminally ill friend in Peterborough. He then spent time with another friend from whom he bought the cannabis from for £30 or £40 though he did not know how much. He thought it would help him sleep. He then drove to see his mother in Scotland who was terminally ill, and she died while he was there.

Due to Covid restrictions at the time he was the only person who could be with her and he could only go out for an hour each day.

Advocate Steel said the grief during this period had taken a huge toll on his client’s mental health and wellbeing. His partner had said that he was frequently tearful around this time. People who had supplied character references had told of the emotional strain they had seen in him.

Mr Hart ran Aurigny for 13 years from 2000, and was managing director when the airline was bought by the States in 2003.

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