Border Protection foils man’s drug-making plans

AN AUSTRALIAN Customs and Border Protection Service intercept of mail containing drug-making equipment ultimately saved a Toowoomba man from prison time.

The two mail parcels addressed to Ryan Robert Gates had, under x-ray, shown to contain glassware and chemicals, items used in the production of illicit drugs such as amphetamine, Toowoomba Supreme Court heard.

However, none of the drug had actually been produced because Gates was unable to acquire a necessary oil to complete the mix, despite the 33-year-old actively seeking the chemical.

A police search of his Toowoomba home had found 27g of marijuana under the mattress of his bed which he admitted to police he had grown on a plot at Echo Valley, Crown prosecutor Mark Whitbread told the court.

A search of his mobile phone found text messages relating to Gates supplying marijuana to friends and that he had downloaded a file from the internet which contained a 291 page document on how to produce illicit drugs such as ecstasy and methylamphetamine.

Gates pleaded guilty to two counts of producing a dangerous drug, possessing instructions to produce a dangerous drug, 14 counts of supplying and three of possessing a dangerous drug.

His barrister Liam Dollar told the court his client came from a good family, had a good work record but had been smoking marijuana since his high school days and had formed a "hair brained scheme" with friends to try and produce ecstasy.

Justice Martin Burns said, while this was not a case of trafficking in dangerous drugs, there was evidence from Gates' phone records that he and friends were looking to not only use some of the drug but make some money from it.

Acknowledging Gates had good prospects for rehabilitation, Justice Burns sentenced him to 18 months in jail but ordered he be released on parole immediately.