Man sold drugs to clear ‘significant’ debt, court told

Rex Martinich |

A man who started taking drugs at age 11 has been jailed after trafficking meth, cocaine and GBH.
A man who started taking drugs at age 11 has been jailed after trafficking meth, cocaine and GBH.

A man who transported cocaine along Queensland’s coast and sold methamphetamine in an attempt to clear his “significant” drug debt has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Luke Matthew Stewart, 38, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Brisbane Supreme Court to one count of trafficking in dangerous drugs, one count of supply and six counts of possession.

Stewart also pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing three vials of testosterone and not providing police access to his electronic devices.

Crown prosecutor Ken Spinaze said Stewart engaged in drug trafficking for three months starting in August 2021.

“It was street-level trafficking in multiple drugs including meth, cocaine and GBH … there was some sophistication in that he used an encrypted mobile phone,” he said.

Mr Spinaze said Stewart would contact his supplier on weekly or daily basis and request drugs in amounts between a quarter of an ounce to one ounce (seven to 28 grams) which he would then sell in smaller mounts to drug users.

“There is no suggestion (Stewart) profited in any significant way. The money was for his own addiction and he owed his supplier a significant debt,” he said.

Police intercepted a phone call made by Stewart in which he told his supplier he would pay him $28,000 in cash as part of his regular debt repayments.

Part of paying off the debt included Stewart travelling almost 650km north to Rockhampton to provide an unknown amount of cocaine to one of his supplier’s customers.

Mr Spinaze said Stewart had seven phones in his possession when arrested but only provided access to two handsets and claimed to have forgotten the access codes to the other five, which police believed were used for drug dealing.

Defence barrister Penny White said Stewart had begun taking drugs at an extremely early age and it had affected his cognitive development.

“He has otherwise been able to live his life without serious offending and by working in jobs and running a business while employing people,” Ms White said.

She said Stewart had pleaded guilty at an early stage in proceedings and had taken drug rehabilitation courses.

“He has been clear of drug use for a significant amount of time,” she said.

Justice Sean Cooper said drug trafficking was a serious offence because of the cost it imposed on the community but Stewart’s drug use starting at age 11 had seriously affected his mental development.

The judge said he was concerned Stewart had previously allowed the young employees of his roofing business to use drugs in his home, but he was now studying youth and community work.

“It shows the sobering effect these charges had on you, that you want to contribute to society and I commend you for that,” Justice Cooper said.

Stewart was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment to be suspended after serving nine months.

He will be under a suspended sentence for three years and a probation order for two years once he is released.