SPEAKING UP: Magistrate Cam eron Press.
SPEAKING UP: Magistrate Cam eron Press. allan reinikka

Magistrate declares war on methamphetamines

FINES for first-time methamphetamine possession charges are not deterring people from using the drug, according to a Rockhampton magistrate.

Magistrate Cameron Press has taken a stand on penalties for methamphetamine users, saying fines for first-time offenders has led to Australia being one of the biggest drug using countries in the world.

Mr Press made the comments when dealing with the sentence yesterday for Austin Leith Mason's first meth possession charge (0.1g meth) and a supplementary syringe charge from a separate date.

Mr Press refused to hand Mason a fine for the first-time possession of meth offence, saying fines were deferred to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry, did not deter offenders and "failed to satisfy the consideration of rehabilitation" in the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992.

"I think that attitude has led this country to being one of the greatest drug-using countries in the world," he said.

Mason, 22, pleaded guilty to the possession of meth charge, a contravening police requirement charge, and a possession of a syringe charge.

His defence lawyer, Zoe Craven, requested a fine-only penalty as this was his first meth possession charge, it was a small amount, and he was cooperative with police.

"He's not eligible for drug diversion as the result of his prior convictions... otherwise that would have been my submission," she said.

But Mr Press said he was not going to impose a fine for methamphetamine use.

"It's a dangerous drug and I don't think it sends a message to the public that courts take it seriously by giving people fines that just get referred to SPER.

"It's a huge problem in society. It's destroying people and families," he said. "The worst thing that could happen to this man is to become an addict of methamphetamine."

A report titled "Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2016-17" stated meth/amphetamine was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis use in Australia on a weekly or more often basis.

It also stated amphetamine use was the fastest growing treatment area, more than doubling in the five years prior from 22,000 to 50,000.

Police prosecutor Julie Marsden

said Mason told police he used a syringe to "squirt meth into his mouth".

Mr Press said he found it hard to believe this was the only time Mason had used meth given the fact he was caught later with the syringe.

"I'm sure that this gentleman will get more benefit out of doing some drug counselling than just by having a fine referred to SPER," he said.

Mr Press ordered Mason to a 10-month probation order with drug counselling, along with a $200 fine for contravening police requirement. No convictions were recorded.

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