Rehabilitated drug dealer goes free

A BANORA POINT father and former drug user had given up drug dealing in methylamphetamine (meth or ice) before being arrested by police, the Lismore District Court heard this week and was 'not as wicked' as a commercial dealer.

Allen Gregory Garner received a fully suspended 18-month jail sentence after pleading guilty before Judge James Black to supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis to a police informer, a man who was his previous employee.

In agreed facts before the court Garner during February 2007 supplied the Northern NSW man with 16.06 grams of methylamphetamine for $2450, and 2.33 grams (nine tablets) of MDMA (Ecstasy) for $250.

He was not arrested and charged until 14 months later on April 30, 2008 .

The charges stem from a Tweed Heads police operation involving the use of the registered police informer with the monitored drug deals taking place in Chris Cunningham Park at Tweed Heads following phone calls from the police informer to Garner.

Defence lawyer Ralph James argued that the quantity of the ongoing supply was relevant in determining the seriousness of the offence, and his client had stopped drug dealing on his own volition - accepted by Judge Black

Mr James said Garner had also been a drug user at the time and (in other cases) an offender who was not a drug user but who supplied drugs 'out of greed' was regarded by the courts to be in the worst category of suppliers.

In his summary Judge Black noted Mr James's argument that as a (former) user-dealer, Garner was 'not as wicked as a commercial dealer' and that he also accepted evidence of Garner's success in his own drug rehabilitation.

He found special circumstances justified not making the jail sentence immediate, citing legal argument that Garner became addicted to using unlawful drugs for pain relief following an accident; and that it had not been police intervention that stopped him dealing.

“Since then he has been working hard to pull himself together, to deal with his drug problem,” Judge Black said.

He said Garner's rehabilitation success, his ongoing efforts and the effect of long court delays justified not imposing the immediate sentence.

Judge Black immediately suspended the sentence and placed Garner on an 18-month good behaviour bond.

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