JAILED: Nimbin lane boy sentenced for cannabis supply

Lismore Court House. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Lismore Court House. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

ONE of the Nimbin 'lane boys' convicted for cannabis supply has been led away to serve at least six months in jail after his appeal for a suspended sentence in the District Court was refused.

Ryan Hawken, 29, was filmed taking part in the supply of cannabis on 20 occasions in Nimbin's Rainbow Lane between January and April last year.

In July Hawken sentenced to 12 months' jail with an eight-month non-parole period in Lismore Local Court, but immediately appealed the sentence and was granted bail.

Hearing the appeal this morning, District Court Judge Laura Wells partly reduced Hawken's jail term but refused his bid to avoid jail altogether, saying Hawken should have "mended his ways” after two prior convictions and a warning.

Hawken had received a good behaviour bond in 2007 and in 2010 was convicted of reckless grievous bodily harm in company, for which he received a suspended sentence.

The court heard that in the years since 2010 Hawken had rehabilitated his life, but a back injury had forced him out of work and led him back to Nimbin.

There he re-joined the fold of his childhood friends, whose common ground was cannabis dealing.

In a lengthy submission, Hawken's legal aid solicitor said he regretted his decision to reconnect with old friends in the context of dealing cannabis.

"He has realised there is no excuse for his actions,” she said.

But she argued that following through on the jail sentence could be counterproductive to Hawken's rehabilitation as he now had a full-time job, lived in Queensland with his long-term partner, and had cut all ties with his co-offenders.

"A suspended sentence would enable Mr Haken to continue on the constructive path he is now on,” she said.

She said the chances of Hawken reoffending were "remote”.

"Growing up in a town which has an annual festival that celebrates cannabis could (also) be considered a mitigating factor,” she added.

In a letter to the court Hawken wrote that his arrest last year was a "big wake up call” and he was "ashamed and embarrassed”.

But Judge Wells crushed any hopes of a reprieve, saying Hawken's previous convictions and sentences "don't seem to have provided the sort of wake up call he needed”.

"One can only wonder why he didn't do that when he was getting the benefit of a (good behaviour) bond (in 2007) and when he faced court in 2010,” Judge Wells said.

She noted that Hawken was involved in the enterprise "purely for profit” because he didn't use cannabis and had no work at the time.

Judge Wells said she had also formed the view that Hawken "had something of a flippant attitude” to the offences.

Earlier he was quoted in a pre-sentence report as saying he was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Judge Wells agreed to reduce the jail sentence to nine months with a six-month non-parole period, but didn't suspend the sentence.

Hawken's loved ones were distraught as he was led away.

Another man, 28-year-old Ben Yasserie, was approved for an eligibility assessment for an intensive corrections order.

Judge Wells said Yasserie "by all accounts confronted a difficult upbringing” and had already served 55 days in custody.

He was filmed 11 times at Rainbow Lane and had prior convictions unrelated to drug supply.

Yasserie will be assessed for an intensive corrections order, and if approved will avoid jail time and instead serve 12 months' strict community service and rehabilitation under oversight from correctional officers.

"Who knows it might assist him a great deal in his rehabilitation if he takes a positive attitude to it all,” Judge Wells said.

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