Mum laughed as toddler played with meth

Nurse Lauren Stewart laughed as her toddler grabbed a handful of meth and hid it down her shirt - it was another day in the suburban Earlville family business.

The mother of three, then 28, knew police were aware of her shady home based business- but had no idea a camera had recorded 144 drug deals in the home "office" where her youngest child played.

Cairns Supreme Court today was played a surveillance video which clearly showed the young girl, brandishing a barbie, giggle as she pinched the drug from her mother's 'work station.'

"I don't believe in top stashes at all," Stewart said on the video, laughing.

"She put it down her top!"

The court heard Stewart had actually engaged in a bit of top stashing herself; in 2016, police caught her with a shirt-stashed bag of meth.

Lauren James Stewart
Lauren James Stewart

She told officers she had "found" the drug.

By June 2018 Stewart had a suspicion her house had been bugged by police.

"She started communicating with customers with a white board instead of speaking," crown prosecutor Claudia Georgouras told the court.

Stewart dealt from her mother's Earlville property from September 2017 to July 2018 - indeed it was quite the family business.

She would resupply her own stash from an acquaintance of her mother, most often buying two ounces at time, to sell at her 'shop front.'

The court heard Stewart's mother was running her own meth dealing operation at the same time.

The crown argued that Stewart sold an average of over $1200 in meth to 10 customers each day - at one low point selling cannabis to a 13 year old child.

Over the 10 months she would have turned over close to $400,000.

Despite eight police raids, she continued to peddle meth and did not slow down even when 16 of her customers had been scooped up by officers as they left the house.

Instead, their solution was to erect a business hours sign which stated "no visitors before 8am or after 10pm," in the knowledge that the interceptions had occurred late at night.

Stewart pleaded guilty to trafficking ice and multiple counts of drug possession, possessing proceeds of a crime, possessing utensils and stolen goods.

Her mother has yet to be dealt with by the court.

Rachelle Logan, defending, told the court her client began to sell meth after moving home with her three children.

Justice Jim Henry said Stewart ran a "brazen" operation.

"Your behaviour was quite appalling; you were maintaining a household in the care of children," Justice Henry said.

"It was obvious that if they were not old enough to understand what was going on they nonetheless were bearing witness to it.

"The temptation of doing what you were doing, making easy money, outweighed what would have happened should you remove yourself from temptation and the premises.

He jailed Stewart for seven and a half years including 404 days time served, with a parole date of July 17 next year.



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