Drug dealer caught red-handed

THERE was no king in his counting house when Nimbin police spotted drug dealer Stephen Johnson through an open window counting money while seated at a table with a plastic bag that held cannabis.

Johnson, 46, despite recently moving to Lismore away from Nimbin’s drug scene, has been moved into a jail cell after pleading guilty in the Lismore Local Court to possession of a prohibited drug at Nimbin on January 9.

He was also charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime – $670.

The former Nimbin Rocks resident was caught by police on foot patrol at the rear of Cullen Street, where they saw him ‘in clear view’ counting money and placing the cash on a table.

Also on the table was a resealable plastic bag holding dried cannabis leaf.

“What can I say? You have caught me red-handed,” Johnson told the police officers.

He said the money in his wallet was his own that he had withdrawn from his bank account, but the money on the table was not.

A bronze cone for smoking cannabis was also seized.

With many pages of criminal convictions before her, Magistrate Robyn Denes noted that Johnson had never been jailed.

Defence lawyer John Hennessy said his client had an explanation for the money and ‘it was not from the sale or proceeds of drugs’. However, no explanation was given to the court.

Ms Denes said there was a ‘strong inference’ that it was drug money.

Mr Hennessy asked that his client not be jailed because he had removed himself from Nimbin and was now living in Lismore.

Ms Denes replied the time had come for a custodial sentence because Johnson’s criminal record of about 14 pages was filled with supplying or drug possession offences.

She said the court was supposed to stop him doing this, but for some people ‘it takes a long time for the message to get through’.

“You have had opportunities, but there is nothing before me with regard to rehabilitation other than you have just moved from Nimbin,” she said.

She jailed Johnson for one month.

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