Family tragedies led man down dark path
FOR a long time, he led a fairly normal life.
But a court on Thursday heard how cruel twists of fate changed everything for Michael James Winbank.
First, Winbank lost a four months old baby to illness.
Then his father suicided in 2014 after getting involved in a "siege" with police after an alleged domestic violence incident.
And defence counsel Colin Reid said the "trifecta" of adverse events included Winbank's relationship ending.
"For any of us, any one of them would have been troubling."
Mr Reid said Emerald man Winbank had "quite a normal life" before the baby died.
Brisbane Supreme Court heard Winbank turned to drugs.
But his mental health suffered and he was admitted to hospital.
Winbank had moved to Emerald from Brisbane for a fresh start.
But Mr Reid said Winbank found himself settling into the Central Highlands drug scene.
Crown prosecutor Victoria Adams said police found phone clipseal bags and evidence of four discrete drug supplies carried out in late 2017.
Winbank, now 32, was arrested and spent 153 days in custody before going to a Salvation Army rehab course.
"They have found Mr Winbank to be their star recruit to rehabilitation," Mr Reid said.
Winbank pleaded guilty to trafficking ice and marijuana.
Justice Peter Applegarth accepted Winbank had taken "remarkable steps" towards rehab.
But he added: "You know the ravages of drug abuse. Everyone you supplied ... was effectively given the equivalent of poison".
Justice Applegarth said ice had "blighted" towns throughout regional Queensland.
The judge said he had to balance denunciation with "the community's belief in redemption".
Justice Applegarth sentenced Winbank to four years' jail but had choices about how to impose that sentence.
He decided against parole, saying the parole service was already burdened.
He decided against sending Winbank back to jail, saying Winbank's rehab could be "impeded and jeopardised".
So a suspended sentence was imposed.
Justice Applegarth warned Winbank to stay out of trouble.
"I'm not being lenient. I'm giving you the power to decide whether you go to jail." -NewsRegional
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