A WOMAN who was caught transporting a haul of Class A drugs worth almost £80,000 on the streets has been spared a jail sentence.

Clare Burke was stopped by police on the M8 motorway at Livingston, in West Lothian, and was found to have a kilo of heroin and 125 grams of cocaine in the Audi TT car she was driving towards the Borders.

A court heard that Burke, 53, had "a genuine terror" of being sent to prison as she feared reprisals because of the loss of the drugs.

Burke, formerly of Galashiels, earlier admitted being concerned in the supply of both heroin and cocaine on June 25 last year at the motorway.

A judge told her that if she had been found guilty of the drugs offences after a trial then only a jail sentence would have been appropriate because of the amount of Class A narcotics involved.

But Lord Richardson imposed a community payback order on Burke with conditions that she carry out 240 hours unpaid work and be under a supervision requirement for three years.

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The judge said at the High Court in Edinburgh that he took into account her early guilty plea, her remorse and that she has taken steps to address the addiction which appeared to be at the root of her offending.

Lord Richardson told her: "I emphasize this is an opportunity for you to move on constructively with your life." The judge said in his view she should "grasp this opportunity with both hands".

The court heard that on the day of the crime police had information that the driver of the blue coupe was in possession of controlled drugs and carried out a stop on the vehicle.

Burke was the sole occupant and driver of the car and was detained for a search. She was later interviewed and indicated she had no idea of the quantity of drugs involved.

Advocate depute Graeme Jessop said: "It is understood that at the time of her arrest the accused was in the process of couriering the drugs back to the Scottish Borders for onward supply to others."

Defence solicitor advocate Iain McSporran QC urged the judge to spare Burke a jail sentence and told the court she was an "extremely anxious" individual.

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He said: "Her use and abuse of controlled drugs has been a feature of her criminal history and indeed her personal history on and off."

He said that although Burke has previous convictions they were not of the seriousness of the current offences and she has no outstanding cases.

Mr McSporran said that she has both physical and mental health issues and has taken steps to remove herself from the area where she previously lived.

He said Burke found herself "in orbit of at least one individual" whose activities had brought her into the offending. He said: "It is her intention never to return and certainly never to have any dealings with that individual."

Mr McSporran said Burke was effectively drug free for a period of years before relapsing and ended up having a debt to pay off to that person.

She was directed to take cash from the Borders to West Lothian and exchange it for drugs, but did not realise the amount that was involved.

"She was only 10 minutes or so on the return journey when she was stopped by police," said Mr McSporran. He argued that Burke was lured through her own vulnerability into the offending.

He told the court: "There is a genuine terror on her part of imprisonment." He said it was based on "what seems to be a well-founded belief that in prison she would be exposed to a high risk of retribution at the hand of this individual and his associates, who as is the way of the drugs world, hold her responsible for the loss of the drugs".