Brothers sentenced over outback drug ring

TWO brothers who led a Cunnamulla-based drug ring have been sentenced for their part in trafficking meth and marijuana across outback communities in Queensland's south-west.

The group was exposed through a major police operation in which phone calls between the two men and their contacts were recorded over four months.

More than 20 people were arrested on 153 charges.

Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Friday Darren John Shillingsworth supplied marijuana, which was sometimes sourced from NSW, on a daily basis over six months.

The recorded calls revealed he had a customer base of between 15-20 people.

On one occasion Shillingsworth agreed to sell marijuana to a 15-year-old boy. He was subsequently charged with supplying a dangerous drug to a minor.

Defence barrister Phil Hardcastle said his client had been using marijuana since his late teens but still had a good work history on cotton farms and more recently, as a gardener at the local health centre.

He said his client and wife suffered the loss of their nine-year-old child and his drug use worsened following the deaths of his parents.

Shillingsworth was sentenced to three years in jail. Because of the amount of time he had already spent behind bars, he was released on immediate parole.

His brother, Michael Shillingsworth, who supplied both marijuana and the drug known as "ice”, to a similarly sized customer base, was sentenced earlier in the week to four and a half years in jail for drug and driving offences.

He will be eligible for parole in July.

The woman who supplied him with the ice was also due to be sentenced on Friday.

Mother of five Kathleen Albertha Brown was said to have had a troubled upbringing in Cunnamulla where she had turned to drugs to "block out abuse”.

The recorded calls revealed Brown had sold the meth to Shillingsworth over six months. Charleville Magistrates Court previously heard Brown had "bragged” about supplying to another seller in Thargomindah.

Mr Hardcastle said his client had since relocated to Deception Bay to get away from bad influences and was focussed on raising her children.

But Justice John Byrne said it was "disappointing” there was no evidence of Brown trying to rehabilitate herself and adjourned the sentence so she could prove she was clean by taking a urine test.

"Typically where there is competition between the children and the crystal meth, the meth addict will choose the drug almost every time,” Justice Byrne said

"That's why rehabilitation is so important.”

Brown will be sentenced on April 18.

-ARM NEWSDESK


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