HE WAS already on parole for 140 drug deals, but that didn't stop Matthew Lee from peddling more ice in the Tamworth 'ice castle'.
The now 35-year-old admitted to dealing more than 50g of ice and shook his head when the four-and-a-half-year jail sentence was read out in Tamworth District Court this week.
Lee appeared via video link from prison, where he's been since his arrest in Dubbo in June, last year.
He pleaded guilty to supplying on three occasions, including 47.9g of ice in one deal after "a request made of him" by other co-accused.
The court was told "he had to travel to south of Canberra to source the drug".
"I would describe Mr Lee as a standalone mid-level supplier," officer-in-charge of the 'ice castle' case, Detective Senior Constable Trent O'Rourke told the court.
Lee then was involved in another deal, this time 1.75g on March 18, last year.
"Mr Lee scooped an amount from a bag with a plastic spoon," Judge Deborah Payne detailed from the police facts. A second supply of 1.75g of ice also occurred in early 2019.
At the time, Lee was on parole for supplying drugs on an ongoing basis in Tamworth as well as possessing an unauthorised firearm. He'd only been released on parole in April 2018
The court heard he was jailed for eight years after he supplied drugs between October and December 2012 on "140 occasions".
The court heard Lee then "fell into a period of homelessness at the beginning of 2019". He'd been forced to leave his Tamworth home when his father-in-law had been released to return to the property, had "nowhere to go from night to night," and was using ice daily.
Strike Force Radius - the ice castle police operation - arrested Lee in Dubbo in June, last year. The 35-year-old's parole was revoked a month after his arrest.
DRUG ADDICTION WAS LEE'S DOWNFALL
"One can fall over and resort to drugs, and that's what happened to Mr Lee," his barrister Peter Krisenthal said.
"He fell back into his own drug addiction."
Medical reports were tendered to the court, detailing the liver cirrhosis Lee was diagnosed with, after he was jailed. His life expectancy is "in the vicinity of 12 years", but he could be fortunate to have a transplant.
Lee started using ice at 19, and was even younger when he first turned to drugs.
"There's some element of financial reward," Mr Krisenthal said, adding that he "doesn't have a fine house".
"He's trying to support his own drug habit."
He was approached by others who were dealing in drugs ... the way he spoke indicates an active degree of involvement.Judge Deborah Payne
The court heard Lee had undergone a number of courses in prison including chemical handling, first aid, and certificates in business studies.
When he's released, he wants to return Dubbo to live with his mother and "avoid the Tamworth area where he has come under some significant difficulties".
"He is in a perilous condition," Mr Krisenthal said.
"He's picked himself up and dusted himself off."
Judge Payne said "it was still a substantial sentence ... and it didn't slow him back down".
"He is prevailed upon, I don't say he put up much resistance," Mr Krisenthal said, of being approached by two co-accused.
Judge Payne said Lee was "a substantial drug user himself" and "undertook it willingly and with persistence ... and then was able to supply this significant amount" of 51.9g of methylamphetamine.
"He was approached by others who were dealing in drugs ... the way he spoke indicates an active degree of involvement," she detailed.
Judge Payne said if it wasn't for his early guilty plea which attracts a 25 per cent discount, he would have been jailed for six years.
He'll have to serve a minimum of two years and 10 months behind bars before he's eligible for parole.
Lee will be first eligible for release in January 2023.