'Like a 5-star hotel': Cocaine supplier in $980-a-day rehab
UPDATE 3.46pm: A CROWN prosecutor has argued two men should be sentenced to full-time custody for their parts in the supply of a large amount of cocaine.
Corey David Edward Magee, 27, from Bilinga on the Gold Coast, and Jesse Marijonas Vilkelis-Curas, 24, from Lismore Heights, have been facing a sentencing hearing for the supply of 1kg to cocaine at Greenacre last April.
But the operation came unstuck because their "buyer" was an undercover police officer.
The pair are each to be sentenced for knowingly taking part in the supply of a large commercial quantity of the drug, while other offences they've conceded will also be taken into consideration.
For Magee, this included directing the activities of a criminal group.
In presenting his submissions to Lismore District Court on Monday, the Crown prosecutor stressed two of Magee's offences carried a maximum term of life imprisonment, while Vilkelis-Curas was facing one such penalty.
Their primary offence carried a standard non-parole period of 15 years.
While Magee's solicitor, Rod Behan, argued during last week's hearing that some consideration should be given to the fact the cocaine was never actually distributed to the community, the prosecutor said many authorities declared this made the offence "no less serious".
"In essence, the offender fully intended that the drugs would be disseminated in the community," he said.
"Mr Vilkelis-Curas at least conceded… the impact that would have had in the community."
He said the operation was a "relatively sophisticated venture" which was "clearly for financial gain" in which the offenders used a range of communication means.
Mr Behan had earlier argued there was some overlap in Magee's primary offence and that of directing a criminal group, and Judge Dina Yehia said they were "two discrete offences" but acknowledged "the particulars relied upon have a degree of overlap".
Defence barrister Ben Cochrane earlier asked Judge Yehia to consider Vilkelis-Curas' six weeks in a private Byron Bay rehab as a form of "quasi-custody", although his client conceded it was akin to a "five star hotel".
The prosecutor argued the court should give limited consideration to this, given the "luxurious" rooms.
Judge Yehia said Vilkelis-Curas was still subject to limitations on his liberty during his time there.
"It would be a wonderful thing if rehabilitation centres everywhere had that sort of accommodation available to people who genuinely want to desist in their drug use," she said.
The prosecutor clarified, saying he would be "concerned" if someone received more leniency just because he could afford to attend the $980-a-day facility.
"The Crown submission is… this is not an offence where an intensive corrections order is appropriate," he said.
"It's purely for financial gain.
"He had an addiction debt he needed to pay."
He said Vilkelis-Curas' two and a half months in custody before being released on bail was a "relatively short time".
Judge Yehia is expected to sentence the men on Wednesday.
Original story: LEARNING his brother owed "some bad people" a substantial sub of money saw him try to clear the debt.
But an attempt to assist his family landed Bilinga man Corey David Edward Magee, 27, in hot water when he helped to choreograph a drug deal in which the buyer - unbeknownst to him - was an undercover cop.
Magee will this week be sentenced for knowingly taking part in the large commercial supply of a prohibited drug.
He'd been involved in the supply of about 1kg of cocaine at Greenacre on April 13 last year.
In a sentencing hearing last week, Magee told Lismore District Court his brother, Ricky, 24, who was in prison, had "a substantial amount owing to people".
"He told me about what was going on and eventually someone contacted me and told me I had to perform a service to fix everything up," Magee said.
When the Crown prosecutor pressed him on who these people were, or what Ricky had done to incur the debt, Magee said he wasn't sure.
"They weren't people you wanted to cross," Magee said.
"I knew my brother owed some bad people."
Magee, who has been held on remand since his arrest, also spoke of an incident in which he'd lost parts of two fingers when his hand was slammed in a door during a prison argument.
"Every day for the rest of my life I'll look down at my hand and it'll be a reminder not to make rash and irresponsible decisions," he said.
Magee, who stood to gain some $15,000 from the cocaine deal, said he was a "middle-man".
He's also due to be sentenced over other drug supply offences, in which he helped Ricky to smuggle buprenorphine into Nowra Correctional Centre.
Co-accused Jesse Marijonas Vilkelis-Curas, 24, also being sentenced over the cocaine deal, told the court he'd become involved largely to pay down debts he owed, including to drug dealers.
Defence barrister Ben Cochrane told the court his client's role was to meet with the "buyer" in Sydney and he was "drip-fed" information.
The court heard Vilkelis-Curas, from Lismore Heights, spent two and a half months in custody before being released on bail to a $980-a-day private rehabilitation centre in Byron Bay, which he agreed was akin to a five-star hotel, albeit with restrictions on his liberty.
Mr Cochrane said his client had "quite extensive exposure to drug dealing as a lifestyle" from a young age.
"People are less morally culpable for conduct which has been normalised for them," he said.
Vilkelis-Curas told the court he realised how the cocaine - if it made it onto the streets - would have affected others like him.
"(I have) no words to describe how ashamed I feel," he said.
"I was totally unaware that ... I was ruining my own life but (also) the lives of so many other people in the community dealing with addiction."
The prosecutor is expected to make his closing submissions this afternoon.