Drugs seized by police during major drug operation Operation Papa Jersey.
Drugs seized by police during major drug operation Operation Papa Jersey.

Tradie had ‘no idea’ how meth got in his underwear

A CQ tradie who began taking drugs at just 10 years old found himself down a dark road, using ice daily by the time he was 24 and convicted of trafficking and sentenced to prison this week.

The former plasterer was addicted to methamphetamines (ice) and running his own drug dealing business after losing his job.

Joel Neil, 28 was no longer able to work and ran a business peddling drugs for the kingpin of an ice trafficking ring.

Neil pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Supreme Court on Monday to trafficking dangerous drugs and possession of cocaine, cannabis and more than 2g of methamphetamine.

Barrister John Jacobs said Neil was exposed to cannabis at age 10 and was using daily in his adolescence.

Mr Johns said he started using meth at 24 on weekends, but after 18 months he was using daily.

Neil spent part of his teen years in Central Queensland, attending Tannum Sands State High School, before leaving to work as an offshore fisherman.

He then moved to Mackay to work as a plasterer, living a self-sufficient life until about two months before he began trafficking.

Mr Johns said leading up to the two-and-a-half-month trafficking period in 2017, Neil was using between 1-1.5g of methamphetamine a day and lost his job due to a inability to turn up.

"He was forced to use his savings and fell into debt, which resulted in him selling methamphetamine," he said.

Justice Graeme Crow read the schedule of facts behind four charges.

He said Neil was 26 at the time and the offending came to light as a result of a police operation known as Operation Papa Jersey, which targeted Paul Joseph Geddes and the distribution of dangerous drugs in Mackay.

Neil sourced drugs from and occasionally supplied wholesale amounts to Geddes. which he had obtained from another source. He also had access to cannabis.

Neil owed money to Geddes who on at least one occasion threatened him to secure payment.

On September 3, 2017, Neil accompanied Geddes and another man to Brisbane to source a large quantity of methamphetamine and cannabis. The three men were photographed at Brisbane airport.

A few days later Neil and Geddes discussed cutting out the middle man who Neil complained had a big mouth and was compromising their security.

Three weeks later, police went to Oaks Rivermarque in Mackay where Neil had been staying.

Officers found a woman in his room and Neil in the underground carpark.

During a search of the room police found four clip seal bags containing a white crystal substance, a blue plastic tub with glass pipes, a glass pipe on the lounge floor and a plastic container with a quantity of clip seal bags.

In Neil's car they found a red backpack containing eight clip seal bags with a crystal white substance, a clip seal bag with a white powdery substance, revealed to be 0.537g of cocaine and three clip seal bags containing 60g of cannabis.

Also, in the backpack was a hard case containing a set of scales and a metal cone piece and $12,950.

Neil was arrested and taken to the watch house where he was strip searched after a clip seal bag fell on the floor.

When Neil removed his underwear, four clip seal bags fell out, three containing a white crystal substance.

He told police he had no idea how they got into his underwear.

When analysed, 15 clip seal bags were found to contain 22.56g of pure meth and 31.348g of "substance".

A majority of the drugs seized by police were packaged in saleable quantities and used for commercial purposes. An unknown portion was used by Neil himself.

The court heard Neil continued his trafficking business while on bail. The operation was closed in March 2018.

Justice Crow said the maximum sentence for trafficking dangerous drugs was 25 years imprisonment.

Crown prosecutor Samantha O'Rourke said Neil was more than a street level dealer, due to the large quantity of methamphetamine he was selling, some of which was found packaged into quarters.

She said the possession of almost $13,000 demonstrated the level of the business and pointed out that Neil was not only suppling to numerous users, but to Geddes who was a wholesale dealer.

"It wasn't as though he was supplying to other street level dealers, he was dealing with someone who was higher up in the distribution," Ms O'Rourke said.

"He also continued to traffic while on bail, after he had been charged with possession. His level of criminal conduct sits above a street level dealer."

Mr Jacobs told the court Neil's rehabilitation had been "coming along" while he had been incarcerated and he had not relapsed into methamphetamine use.

He said Neil had arranged four counselling sessions prior to sentencing.

Justice Crow said Neil had to be punished for peddling the dangerous drug but noted his strength of character.

"By November 2017, you realised you were trapped in the cycle of addiction, debt and misery and knew you needed to stop selling methamphetamine, and you desisted," he said.

"It shows you have good strength of character. It is hard to desist from that drug."

Neil was sentenced to four-and-a-half-years imprisonment and will be eligible for parole on August 13, 2020.

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