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The Daily Record
By Cara Page & Gordon Mcilwraith
THE lawyer who smuggled heroin into Barlinnie prison has spoken for the first time about how she has destroyed her own life.
Young mother Angela Baillie was starting a 32-month jail term last night for passing a cigarette packet stuffed with drugs to a client.
But hours before she was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, she spoke exclusively to the Daily Record in a bid to explain the astonishing act of folly that put her in the dock.
Baillie, dubbed “Ally McDeal” after her conviction destroyed her career, revealed a history of mental illness which has driven her to attempt suicide twice.
She told how she binged on cocaine and booze as she tried to “medicate” her tortured mind. And she revealed that her crime has cost her everything she ever had – apart from her family’s love.
Baillie, who was a lawyer for eight years, broke down as she said: “I’m just so very sorry to have disgraced my family, my friends, my profession.
“I’m just so sorry for everything.
“I’ve lost my job, my dignity, my reputation and I don’t know what pieces there are to pick up. All I have now is the support of my family.”
Baillie, 32, was a £30,000-a-year solicitor with a Glasgow law firm when her life fell apart on October 23 last year.
She went to visit a client who was on remand in Barlinnie, carrying a cigarette packet containing almost 15 grams of heroin and 158 diazepam tablets.
Baillie’s counsel, Paul McBride QC, said yesterday that the client and his family coerced her into carrying the drugs.
He said a female relative of the prisoner, who cannot be named for legal reasons, turned up with a gun to the house Baillie shared with her 15-year-old daughter.
Baillie gave the drugs to her client in an interview room at the Glasgow jail.
But prison officers had been tipped off about the handover. The inmate was strip-searched, the cigarette packet was found and Baillie was arrested.
It was a shocking fall from grace for a former private schoolgirl who lived a comfortable life in a £165,000 home in plush Newton Mearns, near Glasgow.
But Baillie believes the seeds of her downfall were sown years earlier, when her mind began to fail her.
Baillie first started taking antidepressants 10 years ago and was diagnosed with an eating disorder two years later.
But after her arrest, psychiatrists examined her and made a new diagnosis. They told her she had a condition called bipolar II disorder, which was formerly known as manic depression.
The illness affects the judgment and stops victims thinking rationally. And Baillie claims it was behind her decision to agree to smuggle the drugs, rather than calling the authorities or seeking help from family or friends.
She said: “My life is really devastated by one error of judgment when I wasn’t well. If I’d been diagnosed some years ago I don’t think the situation would have ever arisen.”
Baillie also blames her bipolar disorder for her attempts to kill herself.
She said: “I’ve tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion. I didn’t realise at the time what was wrong.
“I’d been seeing psychiatrists and the illness had not been diagnosed. But I understand now that it can go on undiagnosed for a fairly long period.”
Baillie said she first tried to take her own life four years ago, while struggling with her drink and drug habits.
By then, she already had a history of harming herself. She would cut her wrists, treating the wounds herself, or give a false name at accident and emergency.
Then, in June 2002, Baillie took an overdose of paracetamol. She was found by a friend, who had spoken to her on the phone earlier and was worried.
Baillie was rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, then referred to the Priory Hospital to be treated for alcohol and cocaine addiction.
She said: “At the time, drink and drugs were perhaps masking my illness.
“I think it was self-medication. The doctors have told me this is an understandable method of coping with it.”
Baillie, a divorcee, spent a month in the Priory, then was readmitted in 2003 after her drug problems recurred.
Then, in September 2004, she made a second suicide attempt. Again, she was put on antidepressants.
Baillie’s bosses at law firm Richard Lobjoie knew she was struggling. They reduced her workload a year before her arrest and gave her flexible hours which meant she did not have to visit the office.
Case papers were delivered to her home and collected every day, and any court work was done under supervision.
Baillie said: “I just couldn’t cope. I couldn’t juggle everything. I couldn’t cope with my life, my illness – the only thing I had was my job.
“The world was just overwhelming. The job was getting on top of me.
“I wasn’t given any office administration duties because I just couldn’t cope.”
Baillie did not realise at the time that her life was out of control. But her client in Barlinnie was quick to spot her weakness.
Mr McBride said a female relative of the man turned up at Baillie’s home, where she was alone with her daughter, and pressed her to carry drugs into the jail.
Baillie immediately refused, but the woman allegedly made a second visit, this time carrying a handgun. Supposedly, the idea was to persuade Baillie to store the weapon at her home.
But Baillie sensed a terrifying threat. As he pleaded for mercy for her yesterday, Mr McBride told the court: “A gun was not put to her head. But the demand was made in such a way she felt it couldn’t be refused.”
He added that the client and his associates were “properly regarded as dangerous individuals”.
Baillie looked desperately for a way out of the mess she found herself in. She had once studied in America and logged on to the internet in the early hours to try to renew her US residency visa.
She also tried to arrange a meeting with a friend she hoped to confide in. But the pal could not make it.
Baillie felt trapped. She spent the night driving around aimlessly, then went to Barlinnie w
ith the ?1600 haul of drugs.
At the High Court in Paisley in February, Baillie admitted smuggling heroin and diazepam into the prison. She then checked into a rehab clinic, in a bid to finally conquer her mental problems. She will be on medication for the rest of her life.
Baillie told the Record: “I’ve been under a very strict regime.
“I feel as if I’ve stabilised but there’s a long way to go. The doctors reckon another six months of treatment, minimum.”
Baillie said she has been unable to return home for fear of reprisals from her former client’s family. The man has been charged in connection with the Barlinnie drugs incident and she is due to give evidence against him.
She said: “I’ll never go back to my home. I don’t feel safe enough. The house has been cleared and I’ve not been in it since.”
Baillie paid an emotional tribute to her family for helping her through the ordeal of the case. She said: “At the time, they were absolutely appalled, but they have been extremely supportive.
“Without their help it would have been impossible to get through this.
“I’m very close to my father, my mother, my sisters and daughter, and we’ve all helped each other in different ways.
“I’ve lost my career. I’ve gained an insight into my illness. I know the evil of drugs and I accept the punishment of the court.”
Judge Lord Kinclaven decided Baillie’s punishment yesterday after Mr McBride made a two-hour appeal for leniency.
The QC said of his client: “Her life has been shattered into 1000 pieces.”
Mr McBride said Baillie was “at her wits’ end” when she smuggled the drugs.
But he also conceded: “What she ought to have done is contact the authorities, or her family, or those she loved. Had she done so, she wouldn’t be here today.
“She accepts that she betrayed her profession and her position as an officer of the court.”
Baillie dabbed her eyes with a hankie as her counsel spoke.
The judge told Baillie, a first offender, that he took her bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol problems into account.
He also took into account the claims of coercion, Baillie’s “apparent lack of financial gain” from the offence, her co-operation with prosecutors, and the fact that the offence had ended her career.
But he told Baillie: “I am satisfied that the court does require to impose a custodial sentence.
“Your case, like many others in this court, clearly illustrates the tragedies and devastation that can be caused by involvement with drugs and the drugs trade.”
Baillie now faces another court battle as prosecutors attempt to recover £52,000 from her as the alleged proceeds of drug-dealing.
And last night, Martin McAllister, of solcitors’ body the Law Society, condemned her as a disgrace to the profession.
He said: “Whatever the circumstances of Ms Baillie’s case, she has committed a serious crime which goes against the core values of being a solicitor – trust and honesty.”
The Daily Record has not paid Baillie for this interview.
‘I’ve tried to commit suicide more than once. I didn’t realise at the time what was wrong.’