The accused leader of a major drug trafficking network based in the south-west, a woman who was desperate to keep her family together and a man previously addicted to drugs who sold to fund his own habit.
These are the three south-west people arrested in May last year when police allegedly smashed a drug trafficking network operating in two states.
Warrnambool's William Orde, 28, and Jacob Arndell, 29, and Lily Goodwin, 29, of Hamilton, appeared in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged over their involvement in a drug trafficking network that was allegedly uncovered during Operation Abalone, which police established in September 2019 in order to investigate the trafficking of methamphetamine, GHB and cannabis by Mr Orde.
Mr Orde's matter was adjourned for further mention in the same court on March 7 next year.
The court heard Victoria Police had taken over the case from the Office of Public Prosecutions and further discussions needed to be made between parties.
Goodwin and Arndell pleaded guilty to their involvement, more than a year after their arrest and after a long, drawn-out committal hearing which saw a number of charges dropped, including the more serious charge of conspiracy to traffic drugs.
Goodwin's case was dealt with summarily before a magistrate on Tuesday and not before the County Court, where more serious penalties could have applied.
The court heard she played an administrative role in the sale of numerous drugs from her Hamilton home, which she shared with her then partner Daniel McDonnell, 29.
A search warrant executed at their property as part of Operation Abalone on May 8 last year uncovered 199 grams of cannabis, 28 grams of cocaine, 26 grams of MDMA, 17 grams of methamphetamine, 12 grams of amphetamine, six grams of ketamine and two ecstacy tablets, a small quantity of GHB and more than $5000 cash believed to be the proceeds of crime.
The prosecutor alleged Mr McDonnell was trafficking the drugs and that Goodwin played an administrative role in moderating her partner's bank accounts and facilitating the transfer of money in and out for trafficking purposes.
Andrew Dickenson, representing Goodwin, said the woman had done everything she could to maintain her family unit with her young son and his father Mr McDonnell, who had a drug problem.
He said that led Goodwin to "naively take the view that it's better the devil you know" in terms of looking after some aspects of his drug trafficking operation.
Mr Dickenson said Goodwin had never been enthralled in drugs and that she simply had control of Mr McDonnell's bank accounts but didn't directly profit from her involvement.
Magistrate Mark Stratmann said Goodwin's offending "might have involved a matter of the heart but it's no excuse for someone to allow their judgement to be completely lapsed and to continue down a path of this kind which creates incredible damage to the community, particularly so in small communities".
"You grew up in (a small community) and you know that communities have to look after each other and when people get involved in this kind of activity, they eat away and destroy the very communities that they want to be part of."
Goodwin was sentenced to the 62 days she served in custody on remand and placed on a six-month corrections order with the condition she do 75 hours of unpaid work.
Arndell pleaded guilty to three charges - trafficking methamphetamine, possessing MDMA and possessing a prohibited weapon - and also avoided spending any further time in jail.
Those charges related to a police raid on May 7 last year at Arndell's home, which uncovered more than 20 grams of methamphetamine, 4.8 grams of MDMA, a set of knuckle dusters and drug paraphernalia.
Magistrate Stratmann said Arndell had become involved in "an organised and highly destructive course of conduct".
He said the question was whether the offender should go to jail for a longer period of time.
But the magistrate said he had read a psychiatric report detailing the vulnerabilities that led Arndell to drug use and ultimately into the sale of illicit drugs in Warrnambool.
He said Arndell was a relatively young man with a concerning criminal record that needed to be put "far behind you".
Mr Stratmann said he accepted that Arndell had served 126 days in custody on remand, in onerous conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Arndell was jailed for the time he served on remand and placed on a 12-month community corrections order. He must do 140 hours of unpaid work, remain under supervision, undergo testing and treatment for drugs and not associate with Mr Orde.
Mr Stratmann said that if Arndell came back before the court in relation to drug trafficking, he'd be looking at a sentence greater than 12 months' jail.
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