Grandfather of 12 jailed over ice 'co-op'
THE jailing of a disability pensioner and grandfather who led a bulk ice buying "cooperative” in the Kyogle area has shone a light on the seedy underbelly of rural drug addiction.
Thomas John Kedwell, 66, was sentenced to a minimum two years and three months in jail in Lismore District Court today for the ongoing supply of a total 238g of methamphetamine over three months in 2016.
The court heard that Kedwell was the "prime mover” of an operation to import bulk quantities of the drug from southern Queensland for both personal use and distribution to others in his network.
Between May 12 and August 1 in 2016 Kedwell drove to Queensland 12 times to purchase orders of between 7g and 28g of ice, valued at between $1400 to $5000.
Kedwell would travel over the border, most often to southern suburbs of Brisbane such as Springwood to pick up the drugs, using code words with suppliers to make the order.
He worked alongside his ex-partner and son in the operation which Judge Laura Wells characterised as "more or less a cooperative”.
In early 2016 police launched an investigation into the supply of ice in the Kyogle area and ultimately targeted Kedwell and his two co-offenders with telephone intercept warrants.
It was estimated the trio, all then hooked on the insidious drug, used half of the drugs themselves and on-sold the remainder to others.
When police raided Kedwell's Roseberry Creek farm in September 2016 they also located a cannabis crop of 138 plants, which he claimed a neighbour planted and maintained.
The court heard the 66-year-old had a "very long criminal record” going back to 1968 when he was admitted to the care and control of children's services in Queensland as an "uncontrollable child”.
In his boy's home Kedwell "suffered terrible physical abuse at the hands of the guards” and witnessed sexual and physical abuse by guards and other inmates.
A cannabis user from the age of 15, he later became a heroin addict and had served jail sentences for drug crime in the past.
Kedwell, whose health has badly deteriorated due to throat cancer to the point where he can no longer speak, was also stabbed in the throat during the course of his drug activities in the Kyogle area by a schizophrenic man.
Alongside his throat condition, he also suffered from chronic back pain, and a "suggestion of some sort of heart problem”.
Since his arrest the court heard Kedwell had "lost all respect for people who are selling ice”, and recognised the drug "turns people into psychotic dangerous people and not to be trusted in any way.”
Judge Laura Wells expressed some empathy for Kedwell's situation but also added his problems were "in part due to choices he's made.”
While he was purchasing the drug to "largely support his own habit” he still involved himself in regular purchases for others in the tens of thousands of dollars.
She acknowledged the ailing pensioner would suffer "harsher custodial conditions because his very poor physical health” but his "principal role” in the enterprise made a jail sentence inevitable.
He was jailed for a total three years and eight months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months. Taking into account time served he will be eligible for parole in February 2020.