Addict dealer 'at low end of scale'

SCENE OF THE CRIME: A police officer stands guard at the Castledoyle Rd home where Collins was arrested in August last year. Photo: Geoff O'Neill

SCENE OF THE CRIME: A police officer stands guard at the Castledoyle Rd home where Collins was arrested in August last year. Photo: Geoff O'Neill

A DRUG-addicted dealer who supplied methylamphetamine to an undercover police officer will be back on the streets by the end of the year.

Keith Bernard Collins sold ice to the plain-clothes policeman in an Armidale hardware store car park three times over a one-month period, and, prior to that, did a deal with the officer in the car park of a local bowling club.

He was also caught on police surveillance supplying drugs on five other occasions.

Collins has admitted to each of the offences and was led into Armidale District Court yesterday by Corrective Services officers, showing little emotion.

The 41-year-old was part of a ring supplying ice, which unravelled when police stormed two Armidale homes last year.

The Leader was there when Collins and co-accused Lance Gerald James Dixon, who is still awaiting his fate, were arrested following a 12-month-long investigation.

UNDER COVER: A plain-clothes police officer searches the Armidale home as part of the early-morning raid last year. Photo: Geoff O'Neill

UNDER COVER: A plain-clothes police officer searches the Armidale home as part of the early-morning raid last year. Photo: Geoff O'Neill

The ring was busted by police attached to Strike Force Romley – an operation set up to hone in on the illegal supply of drugs in the Armidale area.

The strike force comprised officers from the New England Target Action Group, detectives, undercover officers, a drug dog and uniformed police.

The extensive police investigation culminated in the early- morning raids on the Castledoyle Rd and Newton St units on August 29 where officers found methylamphetamine, phones, documents and a car, all used as part of the ring.

The maximum penalty for supplying drugs on an ongoing basis is 20 years, but Judge Clive Jeffreys said Collins’ offences were “to feed his habit,” and were at the lower end of the scale.

He was also given a 25 per cent discount after pleading in the local court.

“Of five deals, if I can use that term, he expected to receive one in payment,” Mr Jeffreys said of Collins’ evidence about supplying the drug.

“He was clearly a street dealer.”

The court heard Collins agreed to meet an undercover police officer in May last year in an Armidale car park and supplied 0.09g of methylamphetamine for $100. 

On June 15 last year, Collins sold 0.05g of methylamphetamine for $100 to the officer and then during a second sale, supplied the same man with 0.45g for $400.

Exactly one month later in the same car park, Collins did a $100 drug deal, captured on camera by police.

Judge Jeffreys said the offences of drug supply “are objectively serious,” and any involvement in manufacturing or dealing drugs “contributes to the harm.”

“The quantity is obviously a small quantity,” he told the court of the first offence.

Collins took the stand and detailed his use and abuse of drugs, and the court heard he had a troubled upbringing with “little parental support or guidance” and lived on the streets in Sydney.

After starting drinking at the age of 14, the court heard he had sustained chronic liver damage in his late 20s and also used cannabis and amphetamines over the years.

“He has used and abused heroin for many years,” Mr Jeffreys said.

“I’m satisfied ... he was addicted to amphetamines at the time of his offending.”

Aggravating the situation, Collins was on a suspended sentence at the time for possessing stolen goods and cannabis.

Mr Jeffreys said Collins had expressed contrition and remorse and his drug abuse was “not an excuse” – but it had to be taken into account.

The father-of-three was supported by friends in court and gave the thumbs-up after the sentence had been handed down.

He was sentenced to two years and two months dating from December 2013, to take into account his suspended sentence and the other supply charge.

He will serve 12 months behind bars before he is eligible for parole in December this year.

Collins was also convicted on four other counts of supplying drugs and knowingly taking part in the supply without further penalty.

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