By Cara Sulieman
A BARMAID from the pub which helped launch the career of singing superstar Susan Boyle has been jailed as part of a major drugs operation.
Shamed Ann Marie McCormack, 32, put police in touch with a notorious drug dealer in Blackburn, West Lothian, after an elaborate sting operation involving brave undercover officers.
They posed as drug abusing thieves in a bid to win her confidence so she would help them buy drugs.
And yesterday the mother of two was jailed for two years and nine months despite not having made any money from the deals herself.
Reluctant to help
Officers from Lothian and Borders Police started drinking at the Happy Valley Hotel in Blackburn last year as part of Operation Focus – a crackdown on drug crime across the area.
The male and female officers had to first win the trust of the barmaid who had been reluctant to help.
Posing as drug abusing thieves, they sold goods they claimed had been shoplifted to the barmaid, before asking her to help them buy heroin.
She contacted her drug using husband, Derek McCormack, 31, – who had served two jail terms for class A drug crimes previously – putting them in touch with dealer Paul Curran, 35.
Police said Curran was eventually caught with more than £30,000 worth of heroin when officers finally pounced on him in the street.
He was sentenced to four and a half years for dealing yesterday at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Derek McCormack was also jailed for five years 219 days for his part.
It was made clear that barmaid McCormack, of Elm Terrace, Blackburn, didn’t profit from the deals that she helped to set up.
But she was too sentenced to a jail term.
Last night police revealed a total of 18 people have so far been convicted as a result of Operation Focus.
“Not be tolerated”
Superintendent Jeanette McDiarmid said: “Dealing in drugs continues to be a scourge in our communities.
“Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to those involved in such crime that their behaviour will not be tolerated.
“I hope that the sentences will also provide reassurance to the communities in West Lothian that Lothian and Borders Police will continue to respond to their concerns and will always take the strongest possible action against those dealing in drugs and committing crime.”
“Anyone involved in any kind of illegal activity in the area should be left in no doubt, the operation continues, and with the ongoing support from all sectors, we will deal with you robustly.”
The Happy Valley Hotel has become a Mecca for fans of Susan Boyle and was a hub of activity for visiting media from across the globe when the Britain’s Got Talent star first emerged.
Fans from all over the world have visited and stayed there during pilgrimages to the where Susan used to regularly sing karaoke.
Last night a member of staff at the bar where she used to work said they were unable to comment about the case.