A TAMWORTH dealer who boasted about his bustling drug trade before he was jailed for nine years has had his sentence cut on appeal after an error was made by the judge.
Matthew Robert Lee is almost four years into his nine-year prison term but lodged an appeal in the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA), arguing the sentencing judge failed to take into account the fact he pleaded guilty at an early opportunity.
Now, the appeal has been upheld by a panel of three judges, who found he was entitled to a 25 per cent discount, and have shaved one year of his head sentence of nine years.
The new sentence will also see Lee released eight months earlier after Justice Basten, Justice McCallum and Justice Davies reduced his non-parole period from six years to five years and four months.
Despite cutting the sentence, Justice John Basten and Justice Lucy McCallum said Lee’s drug operation involved large sums of money, with the primary motivation being financial gain.
“He was supplying both methylamphetamine and cannabis from his home to “a substantial clientele” by day and night, often when the children were home,” they said in a judgement handed down in Sydney.
“The surveillance revealed that the applicant was doing a good trade in both drugs, on some days supplying as many as 22 customers.”
Lee’s life of crime was brought undone by Oxley detectives who established Strike Force Jinna which culminated in Lee’s arrest in 2012 after a two-month undercover surveillance operation.
The then 29-year-old was watched liked a hawk by detectives who saw him carry out 140 drug deals in Tamworth, supplying 227g of methylamphetamine while another 58g was found inside his home.
At the time, Lee had armed himself with a stolen shortened double-barrel shotgun.
“There is no doubt that the offender feared a robbery and obtained the firearm and ammunition in order to be able to defend himself,” the judges said in a written judgement said.
“While the motivation was understandable given the scope of his commercial operation, that operation being illegal provided no justification for obtaining the firearm and keeping it readily available in his home.”
Lee will now be eligible for parole in April, 2018.