Injured worker sold painkillers on 'black market'

A CAMPERDOWN man with a life-altering workplace back injury has been fined $3000 after a police operation caught him supplying the “hillbilly heroin” painkiller black market.

Police charged  David Mathams, 37, of Park Lane, in Operation Underfeed which targeted the Camperdown district black market for medication mid-last year.

Mathams pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to trafficking Oxycontin — an opiate-based painkilling medication.

Oxycontin is nicknamed “hillbilly heroin” because its effects in high doses mirror those of the illegal drug.

Mathams sold 15 tablets to another man for less than $1000. He was convicted and fined $3000 with $110 costs. A number of other people have been charged with offences in relation to the same police operation.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said Mathams suffered chronic pain and found himself in a difficult financial situation but the defendant crossed the line when he sold medication to another man. He said the defendant’s motive was purely to make money.

In the month from July 22 last year police telephone intercepts tracked 32 calls between Mathams and another man allegedly related to trafficking medication, principally morphine-based Oxycontin.

It was alleged Mathams requested up to $60 for each tablet. He claimed he was paid about $30. Defence counsel Amanda Chambers said her client went to a chemist to fill his first prescription for Oxycontin and was approached by a man outside the pharmacy. She said her client was then drawn into the undesirable world of the medication black market. 

Mr Mellas said chronic pain could be debilitating and those who suffered from it would do anything to feel better.

He said people like Mathams were basically dependent on drugs like Oxycontin but the defendant chose to make money out of his pills.

“You crossed a line you should never have crossed,” Mr Mellas told Mathams.

The court heard Mathams had received a payout for his back injury but was having on-going treatment involving pain medication.

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