Ex-boxing champ jailed for guarding drug ring’s stash
Rex Martinich |
A former world champion boxer who guarded a safe full of cocaine and cash for a crime syndicate while running his own drug deals has been released on a suspended sentence.
Michael Alan Katsidis, 43, pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday to one count of drug trafficking over three-and-a-half months starting in December 2021.
Katsidis won title of world interim lightweight champion in 2007 and competed for Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The court heard police identified Katsidis via phone intercepts as residing at a drug syndicate’s safe house between two and five nights a week while monitoring cash and drug levels.
The syndicate gave Katsidis the access code to a safe where drugs were stored.
Prosecutor Lucy Ferguson said Katsidis also sourced his own cocaine that he sold to clients on credit.
“These are very serious drug offences … the distribution and availability of drugs such as cocaine cause damage, destruction and despair in the community,” Ms Ferguson said.
Police raided the safe house in March 2022 and while Katsidis was not present at the time, a search uncovered 8.13 grams of cocaine inside a safe along with $42,850 in cash, “tick sheets” for recording drug debts, laptops and mobile phones.
Katsidis was on parole for drug offences at the time and was returned to custody after being arrested.
Ms Ferguson said Kadsidis should be sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment with a parole eligibility date set to Thursday, so he would serve another four to six months while his application for release was processed.
Defence barrister Wayne Tolton agreed with the proposed term but said it should be suspended to allow immediate release.
“He was drug addicted at that time and never made a single dollar from being involved in the enterprise … he only received drugs,” Mr Tolton said.
He said Katsidis was extremely close to his older brother Stathi, a high-profile jockey whose death in 2010 prompted Katsidis to suffer mental health issues and fall into drug addiction.
“He has had 22 months in custody to reflect on the stupidity of his actions … he regrets his conduct and he is embarrassed, ashamed and determined to turn his life around,” Mr Tolton said.
The barrister said Katsidis had taken every available rehabilitation course, had not tested positive for drugs since being arrested and would return to work and boxing training upon release.
Justice Catherine Muir said Katsidis had committed serious offences but had also shown genuine remorse.
“You have experienced the highs and lows of life. You were an Olympian and you have been a world champion. Against that you experienced the lows of a lengthy period of imprisonment,” Justice Muir said.
She warned Katsidis that outside jail he would be an “easy target” for negative influences as a high-profile sportsperson.
Katsidis was sentenced to four years and six months’ imprisonment suspended immediately for a period of five years.AAP