Coast drug kingpin sentenced after a six-year court case
THE ringleader of a high-level Sunshine Coast drug enterprise has been ordered to serve 80% of his 13-year jail sentence for selling ecstasy, speed and marijuana for more than a decade.
His lackey - who has shown more remorse and rehabilitation than his boss - is eligible to apply for parole in 2017 after being sentenced to seven years' jail.
The case against William Myles Bush, 43, and Gerald Joseph Panganiban, 33, has dragged on for almost six years, but Justice Anthe Philippides put an end to factual disputes on Monday.
Brisbane Supreme Court heard Bush was stockpiling ecstasy and marijuana before his 2009 arrest but was careful to store it at premises linked to his runners.
He was caught with or linked to 7.7kg of marijuana with a potential street value between $52,000 and $80,000 and 5741 ecstasy pills with a potential street value between $70,000 and $230,000 in 2009.
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One of his runners was caught with 2057 ecstasy pills worth $25,000 to $82,000 in 2010, while Bush was already on bail for trafficking offences.
The street value depends on how the drugs might have been on-sold.
Bush also was caught with testosterone and steroids.
He had tried to assert at sentencing that his trafficking business was much less than made out during his trial.
While a forensic accountant could only estimate Bush conservatively had $66,000 in unexplained income over two years of the decade his drug business reigned on the coast, he was listed as unemployed and supposedly relying on his wife.
That figure did not include $62,000 found in a car airbag compartment during a police interception on the Bruce Hwy in 2009, or any money that went back into the drug enterprise for more drugs or to pay runners such as Panganiban.
Police found evidence Bush tried to hide his undisclosed income from drug activities through an arrangement where it appeared he was receiving a normal salary from his previous employer.
He had security cameras inside and outside his Warana house, and was seen regularly with two alsatian dogs by his side.
Justice Philippides accepted evidence Bush was trafficking as early as 2004 despite acknowledging two key witnesses had much to gain from giving evidence against him.
She would not accept Bush's testimony suggesting his marijuana and ecstasy trafficking was low level.
"Nor do I accept you were only engaged in some street-level methylamphetamine dealing," she said.
Justice Philippides said the jury was "clearly unwilling to accept some aspects of your evidence" as she rejected defence submissions Bush made frank admissions at trial.
"To the contrary, I find you were not a credible witness," she said.
Police also found Panganiban was faking financial documents to suggest he had legitimate income - on one page alleging he had made $45,000.
He had partially filled in paperwork for maintenance work allegedly done and fees earned on future dates, but police could not find any tools for the particular line of work.
"You were not a principal in the trafficking business. Rather your role was that of a runner," Justice Philippides said.
"You acted in the role of driver, delivering drugs to customers, and making the car available for that purpose, and collecting money. You were a point of contact with customers. You used multiple phones registered in false names."
Bush and Panganiban communicated through coded text messages, exchanging 847 messages over five months in 2009 alone.
Bush has already served 473 days behind bars while Panganiban has served 254 days.
DRUGS LINKED TO BUSH
Marijuana: 7.7kg with potential street value between $52,000 and $80,000
Ecstasy: 5741 tablets (about 265g pure MDMA) worth between $70,000 and $230,000, plus 2057 tablets (about 160g of pure MDMA) worth between $25,000 and $82,000
Steroids: 195 tablets weighing 22.634g
Cash located: $64,400
Found: Reaction vessels that could be used for drug production, multiple mobile phones, and testosterone.