A MAN accused of trafficking heroin with a maximum street value of £7.8 million from Greece to Scotland today walked free from court.

Russell Stirton, 58, from Milngavie, denied handing over two holdalls containing 34 kilos of the deadly drug at a service station in Greece to HGV driver Peter Cameron on November 24, 2012.

Mr Cameron and his co-driver Samuel Wilson were caught redhanded with the heroin hidden in a load of breadsticks when they crossed over to the port of Bari in Italy on November 26, 2012 and jailed for six years each.

They were supposed to travel with the heroin back to the UK and on to Scotland.

In court, Mr Cameron claimed that he had been handed the bags of heroin by Mr Stirton, but the jury did not believe his story.

He told the High Court in Glasgow that he had only glimpsed the drug courier for a few seconds during the handover.

But, when asked by Police Scotland detectives three years later in 2015 to pick out the person from a sheet of photographs he claimed it was Mr Stirton.

Mr Stirton was in Greece at the time on holiday, but denied ever being at the service station where the handover took place.

Mr Cameron's co-driver Samuel Wilson told the jury that the drugs were delivered to him by a man of Moroccan appearance.

Mr Wilson added that Mr Cameron was not there as he had gone for a walk.

Today after the not proven verdict was announced he thanked the jury as he left the court.

Judge Lady Rae told him: “In view of the jury's verdict you are free to go.”

Outside court Mr Stirton hugged family and friends and said: “I have always maintained my innocence.”

He added: “Throughout this whole process the police have been persecuting my children.”

Defence QC Brian McConnachie referred to this in court as “harrassment and persecution,” when it was revealed in evidence by DC Gary Taylor-Duncan that police were regularly stopping Mr Stirton's family for alleged road traffic offences.

During the trial evidence was also heard evidence from Matthew Edward, 52, who was jailed for 12 years for his part the breadsticks drug operation.

Mr Edward, who is a prisoner at Castle Huntly, told prosecutor Alex Prentice QC that he did not know Mr Stirton .

Police bugged Edward's flat and the jury was played a tape in which someone in the room mentions the name Russell Dickson and then Russell Stirton. Mr Edward is then heard to say “He is with me now, in that place abroad.”

Mr Prentice said: “What did you mean by that,” and Mr Edward replied: “I've absolutely no idea. It sounds like drunken gibberish. I've got several friends called Russell and I wasn't talking about the man in the dock in that conversation.”