A TAMWORTH personal trainer who turned to drug dealing to partly feed his cocaine habit has been jailed for four years.
Mark John McDonald sat listening intently to the sentence as he appeared in Armidale District Court via video link from prison – where he will remain for at least another 12 months.
The 34-year-old’s family were visibly upset and waved to the Tamworth father who, after a year behind bars, will be first eligible for parole in December next year.
In a complex investigation, police watched McDonald for months and searched his Calala home using a secret search warrant to take samples of drugs stashed in kitchen cupboards or the bedroom wardrobe.
McDonald has been behind bars since December 8 last year, after he was “arrested out the front of the gym he ran his personal training business” from.
The court heard transcripts of drug-dealing conversations between McDonald and his co-offenders, including one where he told his friend, “You’ll be impressed with that stuff” before handing him cocaine in exchange for cash.
McDonald supplied more than 12g of cocaine, and details of several drug deals of MDMA were read out in court, including one exchange where McDonald supplied 150 MDMA pills to a co-accused “on tick”.
Judge Jeffery McLennan said that, in total, McDonald agreed to or did supply 600 ecstasy tablets or about 120g of MDMA.
Inside McDonald’s wardrobe, during a police raid, detectives uncovered three screw-top containers in which 110g of amphetamine was found.
Several thousand dollars in cash found on McDonald, or given to him in exchange for drugs, was also confiscated.
Judge McLennan also took charges of supplying 17.5g of MDMA to co-offender Nicholas Hansen into account in sentencing, along with offences of possessing other drugs like testosterone and several other restricted substances like steroids.
He said McDonald “supplied [amphetamine] to two different persons on three separate occasions for profit” and was “more than a street-level dealer given the quantity he supplies”.
Judge McLennan said McDonald’s “drug dealing venture” was “not particularly sophisticated”.
In a letter to the court, McDonald had expressed remorse for dealing “the drugs … [that are] well known to cause serious harm to individuals”.
The court heard of references from his employers, friends and the pastor from the NorthWest Church, who said he believed McDonald “can live inside the bounds that legal authorities have put in place” and had good prospects of rehabilitation, with the support of family and friends.
Judge McLennan said medical reports showed McDonald’s offending occurred in the context of his “own significant substance abuse problem”, despite his long-term employment.
The court was told McDonald realised “the damage he’s inflicted on the community”, he had managed to “destroy his personal training business” that he had run for five years and “in that field he was held in high regard”.
McDonald was sentenced to a minimum of two years for three counts of supplying a prohibited drug and one count of knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime – offences that carry a maximum of 15 years’ imprisonment.
He was given a 25 per cent discount for his early guilty pleas and the court heard he has “no relevant criminal history for like offences, although he does have some history of violence”.
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