TWO drug dealers who conspired to manufacture a precursor to make methylamphetamine have been jailed for five years.
Robbin King and Warren Barry Ayre will spend at least three years behind bars for their offending after they were exposed in a secret sting by Oxley police, code-named Strike Force Burrell.
The pair appeared in Tamworth District Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture 249g of a prohibited drug, supplying 28g of amphetamine and dealing 1kg of cannabis.
Ayre also admitted to knowingly taking part in the supply of a pistol and faced an additional charge of dealing in the proceeds of crime, namely a fraudulent insurance claim on a LandCruiser that has never been recovered.
King also admitted to selling an unregistered firearm and had a charge of offering to supply a shotgun taken into account in sentencing.
The court heard Oxley police launched the strike force in May 2016 to investigate the manufacture and supply of prohibited drug, and focused on Ayre, King and another co-accused who remains before the court.
The pair agreed to manufacture the drug P2P – the street name for a precursor to methylamphetamine – and “took steps towards doing so”, obtaining precursor chemicals and glassware.
Ayre agreed to supply amphetamine and cannabis leaf, which King would on-supply.
“The offender and King shared the profits of this drug supply,” Judge Jeffery McLennan said.
The court heard Australian Border Force authorities intercepted funnels and other glassware meant for a co-accused in January, February and March 2016.
On August 31, 2016, police raided the Spring Ridge property where King and Ayre were staying, and found 2010 millilitres of a precursor in a car on the property.
In a storage shed in Stanley Street, Gunnedah, a 44-gallon drum full of a type of acid was discovered while glassware was found in a raid in Deniliquin.
Judge McLennan detailed conversations between the pair and another co-accused, in which Ayre was heard saying, “Oh, f*** yeah”, claiming they were “still a mile in front” in their drug dealing.
He was also heard discussing “the progress of restoring the parts of a pistol” he had been provided to restore, and then heard on a phone call when a co-accused rang to ensure he had supplied it on.
Judge McLennan said the conspiracy to manufacture was based on an agreement spanning months, but “it failed because of the unavailability of a chemical”.
“But for that chemical, … [in] the offender’s words …[they were] ready to rock and roll,” he told the court.
He said “both Ayre and King were the drivers of the conspiracy”.
“Both offenders played an active role in an eight-month conspiracy,” Judge McLennan said, “engaged in for financial gain”.
Both offenders played an active role in an eight-month conspiracy.- Judge Jeffery McLennan
“The offence involved a series of criminal acts.”
Judge McLennan said it was aggravated because it “demonstrated both planning and organisation”, and while they “played different” roles, “each were equal partners in this offending for supplying amphetamine with a street value of $14,000”.
“The conduct is clearly organised but not complex,” he said.
Ayre, 46, has been in custody since his arrest in September 2016 and was originally committed for trial a year later, but was given a 25 per cent discount for his guilty pleas in July – after hold-ups in the case.
The conduct is clearly organised but not complex.- Judge Jeffery McLennan
The court heard he was addicted to drugs at the time, started injecting ice at 34, and was willing to undergo drug and alcohol counselling,
King encountered the “same problems” and was also given a discount for his two years and 20 days spent on remand before sentence.
The court heard he left school at 14 and had “worked consistently since”. While he “used drugs and alcohol”, he was not addicted and had expressed remorse “for the poor buggers” to whom he dealt drugs.
He said he was grateful for his arrest, which had “given [him] a good kick up the arse”.
The court heard King had a “propensity for risk-taking” and high-thrill behaviours like bull-riding, and was “motivated by the thrill of his unlawful behaviour”.
The pair were both jailed for five years with a non-parole period of three years. After time served, both will be eligible for release in September and October 2019.
A co-accused remains before the courts.
The court heard the LandCruiser – the subject of the dealing with proceeds – was parked in Branxton and a key concealed in the bullbar for Ayre to drive away, before a woman lodged an insurance claim.
Judge McLennan said “the crime was an attempt to defraud”, because the car was always in the possession of a woman but has never been recovered.
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