WAR ON DRUGS: as crisis worsens we should not be lenient
A ROCKHAMPTON magistrate has raised concerns that lenient sentencing for drug users will creep into the justice system as the drug crisis worsens in Australia
Magistrate Cameron Press made the comments as he ordered two people to actual time in custody yesterday morning, both with a string of offences linked to drugs and with histories of drug using over the past four years.
"Drugs, in particular methamphetamines, has become a severe problem in our country and I would have thought that it is incumbent on courts to recognise that and impose penalties that send a strong deterrent," Mr Press said.
"Courts should not go down the path, that because it is very prevalent, leniency creeps in.
"It pains me to have to send people to jail for this type of offending but there really is no alternative."
Mr Press ordered 23-year-old mother of one Lisa Maree Dobbs to a nine-month head sentence with parole release on January 23, 2019, and a $250 fine after she pleaded guilty to a spate of offences including seven possession of dangerous drugs charges, multiple possessing utensil charges, obstructing police, and possessing a weapon and ammunition.
He also ordered Jordan John Andrew Smith, 35, to a nine-month prison term, declared 25 days presentence custody, and set a parole release date of January 23.
Dobbs and Smith were not co-offenders or known to each other. They just happened to be sentenced in the same court room, one after the other, yesterday.
Smith pleaded guilty to possessing dangerous drugs, possessing drug-related property, possessing utensils, possessing restricted items, possessing stolen property, attempted fraud, possessing a knife in a public place and drug driving.
On top of the prison term, Mr Press disqualified Smith from driving for three months and imposed a $450 fine.
Defence lawyer Rowan King said Smith, a father of three with a fourth on the way, was previously a productive member of society and worked full time since leaving high school.
"If you need proof of the destructiveness of methamphetamines, you only have to look at Smith," Mr King said.
He said Smith had a relationship break down in 2015 and people he worked with at the time handed him meth.
"It's something that's been controlling his life," Mr King said.
He said Smith also lost a high paying job as a result of drugs.
"It is indeed frightening to see people like you have your life taken over by drugs, in particular methamphetamines," Mr Press said.
Dobbs's background was similar: she had a relationship breakdown, suffered post-natal depression and her baby's father took the child when the boy was six months old.
Dobbs's lawyer Samantha Legrady said Dobbs' mother now cared for Dobbs' son and Dobbs planned to move in with them when released, with her mother having a zero drugs policy.