A Warrnambool man has admitted his involvement in a south-west drug trafficking network uncovered by police nearly three years ago.
William Orde, 29, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court on March 31 to trafficking methamphetamine and cannabis, possessing MDMA, GHB, prosecution drugs and police equipment.
He also admitted to possessing the proceeds of crime, being $14,210 cash and a Chrysler purchased for $11,000.
Orde was jailed for 20 months.
The man is already serving a significant jail sentence involving a non-parole period and the sentences will be served at the same time.
It brings to an end a case that was ongoing for nearly three years and involved a committal hearing that was cut short after Orde's lawyer Nadia Kaddeche said the defence case had "gaping holes" in it.
At the time Orde faced more than 30 charges.
The man was arrested in May 2020 during police raids as part of Operation Abalone, which investigators established in September 2019 in order to investigate the delivery of drugs and cash to and from Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool and south-east South Australia.
Police members from Warrnambool and Geelong were quizzed during Orde's committal hearing in 2021 with a first constable admitting he had "no legal power" to access encrypted phone messages relating to the drug ring.
The Geelong officer said Orde was in police custody in 2020 and he observed him put in the pin code to his mobile phone, which was then given to police.
The officer later logged into Orde's phone, which was placed in personal property, and located messages on encrypted messaging service Signal, which were recorded and forwarded to Warrnambool investigators.
At the time the officer agreed that he did not have consent to view the phone and he now appreciated there were more "appropriate channels" that he should have gone through.
On Friday a police prosecutor withdrew a number of charges, including three drug-related allegations that relied solely on the Signal messages as evidence.
Orde has been in custody for a lengthy period and was jailed for nine months last year after he pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the court of justice.
That related to an incident in April 2020 when he tried to cover up a car crash on the Hamilton Highway, west of Geelong.
Orde was unaware police had been granted a Supreme Court warrant to tap his phone as part of Operation Abalone.
He was overheard admitted to crashing the Jeep, fleeing the scene and paying another man $4000 cash to take the blame.
He is also serving a jail sentence of eight years and 10 months after pleading guilty to the savage beating of another man who suffered life-threatening and life-changing brain injuries.
The assault stemmed from contact on social hook-up app Tinder.
Orde must serve a non-parole period of six years and two months.
His earliest release date is in 2026.
On Friday, magistrate Peter Mellas said the man's guilty plea contributed to and assisted in the course of justice.
He said that was significant given Orde was in jail for interfering with the justice system.
He said Orde's guilty plea showed he was now prepared to deal with his matters.
"You've had an opportunity and chance to think about what has led you to be in the situation you are today," the magistrate said.
He said Orde's offending had a degree of seriousness and involved his involvement in drug trafficking and the movement of stolen goods over a "relatively narrow period".
Mr Mellas said Orde was saddled with a drug problem for some years and was already facing a number of years in jail.
The court heard Orde had not been sitting idle in prison and was undergoing tertiary education with high distinction.
The magistrate ordered the proceeds of crime be forfeited, including the cash and Chrysler.
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