Chef busted for 'severe cocaine addiction' spared jail

Former Olive Branch restaurant owner Jason Matthew Wood.
Former Olive Branch restaurant owner Jason Matthew Wood. Kevin Farmer

A THREE-YEAR wait is finally over for former Toowoomba restaurateur Jason Matthew Wood who has been sentenced on drug matters.

Wood, 37, was originally charged with trafficking cocaine after police stopped the car he was driving on the Gold Coast in December 2014 and found cocaine.

The trafficking charge was ultimately dropped and Wood pleaded guilty before Toowoomba Supreme Court to 11 counts of possessing cocaine in amounts above 2g and one count each of possessing cocaine and supplying the drug to another person.

Crown prosecutor Julie Aylward told the court a police operation "Quaker" had targeted cocaine distribution throughout south-east Queensland and centred the investigation on a Brisbane-based man who is currently before the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

It was through that operation that police were led to Wood and a co-accused in Toowoomba who had been sourcing the drug from the man who had a number of couriers and drivers distributing the drug, she said.

It was estimated Wood had spent about $45,000 in the time between June 1, 2014, and December that year while his co-accused had spent an estimated $26,600.

Justice Martin Burns noted there was no evidence the two men in Toowoomba had on-sold any of the drug but had split it up between them.

He also noted both were "severely addicted" to cocaine at the time.

Since his arrest Wood had rehabilitated himself and no longer used illicit drugs.

At the relevant time, the 37-year-old had been working long hours in his Ruthven St restaurant, The Olive Branch, which had experienced a downturn in trade and he was doing the business's bookkeeping, cleaning as well working as head chef.

Cocaine use was not uncommon among chefs, Wood had told authorities.

Wood was now a fly-in fly-out worker with a Western Australia-based rig company, the court heard.

His workplace was a drug and alcohol free zone for which he was regularly tested and Wood had had drug tests which had proved clean.

Justice Burns noted Wood's co-accused had been sentenced to three years in jail but released on immediate parole, saying parity in sentencing in the circumstances was important.

Justice Burns likewise sentenced Wood to three years in jail but ordered he be released on parole immediately.

Topics:  supreme court toowoomba

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