A DRUG ring of middle-aged men, who supplied bulk amounts of cannabis, were mostly addicted to the drug and started dealing to fund their habits.
Paul Andrew Allan and Dean Farrant were the Tamworth-based mid-level suppliers who would source "pounds of cannabis" from Van Hieu Vu, secretly meeting in Freeman's Waterhole for the drug deals.
The pair would then bring the drug back to Tamworth and Caroona to sell, taking a profit off the top.
That was until Strike Force Boikanumba - the secret Oxley police sting - smashed the drug ring, swooping on the men and catching them red-handed with the cannabis and the cash.
The trio - along with Quang Thang Bui, Noel Henry Allen and Brett Anthony Allan - all sat silently together in Tamworth District Court on Thursday afternoon, as they were handed their sentences for their involvement in the unsophisticated drug ring.
About half-a-dozen family members sat in the back of the court for the sentencing, which took more than an hour as Judge Jeffery McLennan detailed the involvement of the men and the drug addictions that fuelled their crimes.
The men - who are all based in Tamworth and Caroona except for the Sydney-based Bui and Vu - pleaded guilty in August and were given a 25 per cent discount for those early pleas.
In a 29-page set of facts, the court heard that Oxley police had watched the ring for four months. It unravelled when police dismantled the hierarchy on February 5, 2018. Vu, Bui, Paul Allan and Farrant were the first four to be handcuffed in the Hawksbury.
On the same day, the others were arrested when police raided homes in Oxley Vale, Westdale, Quipolly and Caroona.
The court head Paul Allan had sourced about $168,000 worth of the drug and admitted to supplying more than 27kg of cannabis.
Farrant sold about $78,000 worth of cannabis in the months he was watched. He even sent a message to someone after scoring cannabis, telling them: "Got some gas, if you're looking." Farrant also sourced methylamphetamine during his time under police surveillance.
Farrant had $23,000 in cash ready to hand over when he was caught by police, who had been hiding and waiting.
Vu - the upper-level supplier - dealt 34.9kg of cannabis, worth $231,000, to the Tamworth-based ring. On Thursday, he was jailed for three years and nine months with a minimum of two years behind bars.
Paul Andrew Allan was given time served for 14 months in custody and rehabilitation. He will spend 22 months on parole, in a bid to kick his drug habit.
Dean Farrant, who sat dressed in prison greens from Long Bay hospital, where he is being held, will walk onto parole today after 19 months behind bars.
Bui - the driver for the February 5, 2018, deal when police swooped - admitted to supplying 10 pounds of cannabis and walked from court on a community corrections order, or bond.
Brett Anthony Allan, Paul Allan's brother, sourced the drug to sell in the Caroona area, where he is well respected, the court heard. He was placed on a community corrections order for 18 months.
Noel Allen, a street-level dealer, sourced the cannabis to sell during the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival, obtaining just over 1.5kg of the drug during the investigation. He was placed on an intensive corrections order - or community jail sentence - for 15 months.
PAUL ANDREW ALLAN
Paul Allan, a mid-level dealer, supplied 27.67kg of cannabis worth $168,000 across the Tamworth and Caroona area.
The amount is just over a commercial quantity and was supplied in a bid "to support a habit", the court heard.
Judge McLennan said Allan "may have been a user ... indeed addicted", but [was] involved in supply of a significant amount of the drug.
The 51-year-old has an "insignificant" criminal history but, as an Indigenous man who has lost many siblings to heart disease, also suffered from that along with gout, diabetes and other ailments.
He had given up alcohol but, before his arrest, had smoked an ounce of cannabis daily "for up to 40 years".
He served 11 months behind bars before he was bailed to a Moree rehabilitation centre, where he completed a 16-week in-house program, as well as another Tamworth-based rehabilitation program.
Allan started dealing as a "desire to fund his cannabis use", but he conceded his "offending behaviour has brought shame on the offender and his family", Judge McLennan detailed.
"For the first time in 40 years, he is drug- and alcohol-free, and is determined to remain so," Judge McLennan said.
He said his residential rehabilitation, and his desire to kick his addiction for good, meant time served and a longer time on parole would help him move past the "crossroad" he was at, instead of sending him back to jail.
Judge McLennan said there was "no evidence of a lavish lifestyle", but it was clear Allan was on a "merry-go-round" of buying drugs to fund addictions, then on-selling.
Charges of helping Farrant to source methylamphetamine and dealing in the proceeds of crime were taken into account in his three-year head sentence. After time served, he will spend 22 months on parole from Thursday.
Farrant was a mid-level dealer who acquired $78,000 worth of cannabis during the police sting.
He admitted his motivation was "just greed", in his own words to a doctor, the court heard.
He sourced the drugs, including methylamphetamine in a "one-off enterprise", to on-sell, and would buy drugs to sell, profit and buy more.
Farrant is a 48-year-old man with a "moderate and mixed" criminal history, but he had "expressed a strong sense of guilt".
"[it's] ridiculous for a 50-year-old," he had told doctors during sentencing preparations.
Farrant has PTSD, had a troubled upbringing and has been in custody for close to 19 months.
He was jailed for a head sentence of 31 months, backdated to his arrest, with a minimum of his time served.
He will spend 12 months on parole, with concurrent jail terms for his meth supply and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
VAN HIEU VU
Vu was the upline dealer of cannabis who sourced the drug to supply to Paul Allan and Farrant.
He supplied 34.93kg in the four months, which Judge McLennan said was "slightly less than one-and-a-half times the commercial quantity".
"The value was $231,000 in Vu's hands," he told the court in sentencing, adding Vu had not only sourced the drug but "actively contacted them with a view to see if they required more from him".
"He played an active and important role for a period of four months in supplying two mid-level suppliers with a significant and valuable amount of cannabis."
Judge McLennan said there was "no great level of sophistication".
Vu wrote an apology letter to the court, explaining he got involved in supplying "to pay off a gambling debt".
"I did not understand much about the consequences of my actions," Judge McLennan read from the letter, saying he accepted Vu was "genuinely sorry".
Vu began gambling from as early as 2002 and his habit worsened.
He said he was threatened his family would be harmed if he didn't supply to pay off his $17,000 debt.
"[He] had no option but to engage in the offending," Judge McLennan said of Vu's submissions.
The 44-year-old immigrated to Australia in 1997 and was now an Australian citizen, had been "consistently employed" and worked in a friend's IT sales store.
Vu "chases losses and lies to conceal" and gambled on poker machines, blackjack and roulette.
Despite his defence team arguing for an community-based jail term, Judge McLennan said he "remained unpersuaded" that was an acceptable punishment.
Instead, he found special circumstances for Vu's first time in custody, and said jail was the only punishment available for supplying that amount of the drug.
He was jailed for three years and nine months with a minimum of two years behind bars. Vu will be eligible for parole in September 2021.
He said "Yep" and nodded as an interpreter explained his sentence, before he was led away by custody officers from the court.
QUANG THANG BUI
His only involvement with the ring was to accompany and drive, in his car, Vu to the Freeman's Waterhole drug deal on February 5 last year, where police ultimately swooped.
He spent four months in custody before being granted bail on drug supply charges.
The 32-year-old expressed remorse in a letter to the court, where he admitted his motivation "was financial" and he was a "regular user of cannabis".
The court heard his criminality was very low-level and he had good prospects of rehabilitation.
He was placed on a community corrections order for 12 months.
BRETT ANTHONY ALLAN
Brett Allan, the "quintessential street-level dealer", sold cannabis in "sticks" and was at the bottom of the chain, selling in the Caroona and Walhollow area in a six-week period.
The 54-year-old had a loose association with the drug ring and has a low-risk of re-offending.
He was convicted and placed on a community corrections order for 18 months.
NOEL HENRY ALLEN
Noel Allen, a street-level dealer, supplied cannabis leaf for six weeks, obtaining 1.5kg of cannabis to on-sell mostly during the 2018 country music festival.
The 68-year-old has had multiple surgeries on his heart, takes 24 different medications and is a "bit of a ticking time bomb".
He started smoking joints four years ago to manage his chronic pain, the court heard.
But he's been cannabis free for 14 months.
He said he "feels stupid" for getting involved in the offence, "no longer speaks to his friends since this incident" - those who got him entangled in the offending - and "regrets the whole situation".
He was placed on an intensive corrections order - or community jail sentence - for 15 months to abstain from drugs; undergo counselling and pain management programs; and be supervised by parole authorities.
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