How body-building retail manager became drug mule
FOUR months after a Central Queensland man was sentenced for fuel drive-offs and false number plates, he was busted carting 42g of methamphetamines to Moranbah.
Johnathon Jeffrey O'Brien, 38, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton to one count each of possessing a dangerous drug in excess of two grams, driving unlicensed, receiving tainted property, possessing dangerous drugs, possessing an item used in the commission of a crime, possessing property suspected to be proceeds of drug sales and using an item connected with drugs.
Crown prosecutor Lily Jones said four months after O'Brien was handed a suspended jail term sentence for fuel drive-offs at Mackay, Paget and Nebo service stations, he was busted for the meth haul.
Justice Graeme Crow said O'Brien's seven-page criminal record showed the courts had given him every chance to stay out of prison, but "thus far, you have shown you can't do it".
The court heard O'Brien's phone calls to a Moranbah man were intercepted in the lead-up to the drug haul, including a call telling the man he and a co-accused were 10 minutes outside the CQ mining town.
Justice Crow said O'Brien and his co-accused, who is yet to be indicted for this offending, were intercepted on Moranbah Access Rd on July 26, 2018 about 9.30pm.
He said police intercepted calls where the pair had told their Moranbah contact, who is also yet to be indicted on this matter, they were 'bringing clothes', which the court heard was code for drugs.
Justice Crow said police found a $50 crammed into the passenger seat which had been occupied by O'Brien, along with $450 in the centre console.
He said the 42g meth was located inside two clip seal bags in a sock, secured by rubber bands, hidden inside a Pringles chip container, in the footwell on the passenger side of the car.
The court heard police found a mobile phone in the car along with clip seal bags and scales.
Justice Crow said O'Brien was intercepted on June 22 driving unlicensed after he seen to park a car that had stolen number plates on. They found meth on the front seat.
Defence barrister Maree Willey said O'Brien was introduced to drugs in his early 20s and then managed to stay away from them for about six or seven years.
She said his drug addiction reached 1g a day use at the time of the drug haul offence and he had carried that out to support his own drug habit which he could no longer afford as he had lost his job.
"It is a difficult habit to break and can take a number of attempts," Ms Willey said.
She said since being kept on remand, he had undergone a second rehabilitation program and was now focused on body building.
The court heard before O'Brien returned to using drugs, he had been competing in body building competitions, worked his way up at Blue Scope Steel to a management role and had a partner then lost all of it because of drugs.
Ms Willey said O'Brien plans to return to Mackay on release where he has family support.
Justice Crow ordered O'Brien to a three year and nine-month prison term, declared 377 days pre-sentence custody and set parole eligibility on October 6, 2019.
He activated the suspended sentence and ordered it be served concurrently.