Major drug ring busted
A HEROIN and methylamphetamine drug distribution enterprise in the Northern Rivers has seen five bottom-rung players including a 70-year-old Ballina grandmother and her son-in-law, sentenced in Lismore District Court.
Judge James Black said their arrests (of 15 in total) had been the result of an extensive police surveillance operation that included telephone intercepts.
He said another three offenders would be sentenced next week including Ballina woman Annette Lloyd who is alleged by the Crown to have played a significant role greater than the offenders now before him.
Paul Sweeney, 41, a former Woodburn motel manager, was sentenced to six years’ jail and ordered to serve a three-year non-parole period after pleading guilty to supplying heroin and methylamphetamine (commercial quantities) between January 1, 2008, and August 23, 2008.
Judge Black found special circumstances and said Sweeney’s role was that of ‘a safe pair of hands’ holding the drugs for onward transmission to other drug dealers.
He said there was clearly a drug organisation in existence, which the Crown alleged was controlled by Maree Vera Collier (from Sussex Inlet) who would also be sentenced next week along with her brother Greg Collier.
Judge Black said Sweeney had been working for his mother at her Woodburn motel which was not going doing well financially, with money very tight.
“He had a family to feed and when the temptation was offered as a source of income it was too much for him and he took it,” he said.
Ballina grandmother Shirley Lloyd, 70, was sentenced to two years’ jail (non-parole of 21 months) for her role as ‘a driver’ in taking her daughter Annette Lloyd around to supply commercial quantities of heroin and methylamphetamine.
Judge Black ordered the elderly Lloyd to serve her 21-month sentence in Sydney’s Silverwater Prison by way of periodic, weekend detention, after taking into account her age and health issues.
The court heard evidence from another daughter (not involved in the drug offences) of how she had been ‘flabbergasted’, I was floored’ to learn of her elderly mother’s arrest on drug charges.
She said her mother would not have offended had she not been in ‘a vulnerable position’ while living with her daughter Annette.
“I had no idea anyone (in the family) was involved in criminal activity. It was beyond belief,” the daughter told the court.
“I felt like I was hit on the head with a sledge hammer.”
His Honour said he was satisfied Shirley Lloyd offended because she ‘believed’ her daughter Annette was being threatened.
She had also been worried her daughter would ‘fall asleep at the wheel’ while carrying out her illegal activities.
“She was not part of the ring of distributors. She was aware of it and acted as a driver to her daughter,” Judge Black said.
“She knew what she was doing was wrong.”
Lloyd’s son-in-law Steven Dimaio, 50, a Ballina businessman, was sentenced to two-and-half years’ jail and ordered to serve a non-parole period of 15 months after pleading guilty to supply (non-commercial quantities) of both drugs.
Judge Black said Dimaio supplied a drug syndicate member on at least six occasions with both heroin and methylamphetamine.
Dimaio was not a syndicate member.
Judge Black said the acknowledged heroin user had to accept full responsibility for his actions although there had been ‘some benefits of domestic harmony’ in going along with his wife Annette Lloyd.
Yolande Moloney, 35, of Lismore, escaped jail time only because of her serious health issues – the result of her many years of drug abuse.
Moloney pleaded guilty to supplying heroin and methylamphetamine.
Her defence lawyer Laura Fennell argued that her client’s heart condition and other major health issues should be taken into account.
Judge Black said Moloney’s case was ‘extremely unusual’ with its medical circumstances.
He said five strokes had affected her sight and mobility.
“There is ongoing concern about her heart damage which is significant,” His Honour said.
He said her health issues would place an inappropriate strain on medical facilities available in prison.
Instead he convicted Moloney saying it would be ‘inhumane’ to immediately place her in jail.
His Honour placed her on a good behaviour bond for five years.
Judge Black warned Moloney there would be drastic consequences if she reoffended.
Trevor Wavell Ballinger, 44, of Lismore, pleaded guilty to the supply of 59 grams of methylamphetamine at Lismore between February 22 and May 8, 2008.
Judge Black said his role was to ‘on-supply’ the drug.
Ballinger previously told the court of personal tragedy including how he first used heroin after his first ‘missus’ was brutally murdered.
Judge Black took into account the seven-and-a-half months Ballinger had already spent in jail.
After sentencing him to 10 months and 13 days’ jail, he ordered his immediate release.