A COURT has heard a Tamworth man who admitted to supplying 150g of the drug ice was the “right-hand man” for one of the alleged key players in a drug ring.
Jason Luke Ritchie appeared in the dock of Tamworth District Court this week a shadow of his former self after losing 30kg since he went into prison in September, the court heard.
Ritchie has pleaded guilty to supplying 152g of methylamphetamine – half the commercial quantity in July, 2017, after police intercepted the vehicle he was travelling in.
Ritchie said he initially resisted attempts to get involved in the supply of drugs but a need to put food on the table changed that.
I needed some money, I needed to have food in the house.- Jason Luke Ritchie
"I think I might have declined again ... for the same reasons ... eventually when I was asked again, I accepted,” he said on the stand.
The court was told Ritchie’s dire financial situation – after he lost his job and his Centrelink payments stopped – “was the primary motivation for his conduct".
"I needed help,” he said.
"I needed some money, I needed to have food in the house."
Judge Jeffery McLennan said Ritchie’s actions were “planned” and he could be "properly described [as a] right-hand man". He said it was clear the 26-year-old “got involved in this purely for financial gain".
“He went around and got the money ... then the deal goes down," he said.
He went around and got the money ... then the deal goes down.- Judge Jeffery McLennan
”Without the money there wouldn't have been a deal."
Solicitor Stephen O’Reilly said his client was “more as a courier for Mr [Ben] Woodard, doing some deliveries”. Woodard remains before the courts and is yet to enter a plea.
“He was delivering drugs and … payment, yes,” he told the court.
The court heard Ritchie was “a trusted agent” of his co-accused and had “been friends for many years”.
Ritchie said since being in custody he had spoken to inmates about drugs and “I now know how damaging it can be”.
“I’m ashamed of myself,” he told the court, in front of more than half-a-dozen family members, detailing how it “had broken” his heart missing time with them.
“It’s a place you couldn't wish upon anyone.
It’s a place you couldn't wish upon anyone.- Jason Luke Ritchie
“I just want to go forward and never look back, and I want to build a future for my family.”
Ritchie, who has a limited record the court heard, distanced himself from the drug work after he was stopped by police.
Mr O’Reilly said his client was paid “100 here, 100 there, 500 there” and not significant amounts.
Ritchie will be sentenced in May.
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