Shepparton News

Police dog sniffs out drugs

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A Shepparton man who mailed his friend methamphet­amines as a “birthday present” was caught after a police sniffer dog detected the parcel at a mail centre in the Northern Territory.

John O’Toole, 38, pleaded guilty in Shepparton Magistrate­s’ Court to drug traffickin­g, possessing an unregister­ed category A or B longarm gun, possessing an unregister­ed handgun, possessing ammunition without a licence, possessing a prohibited weapon without approval under the Control of Weapons Act and possessing MDMA.

Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Fiona Kennedy told the court police seized a package containing methamphet­amines sent by O’Toole to a Northern Territory address after a sniffer dog alerted his handler to it at an Alice Springs mail centre on April 22 last year.

The drugs were inside a USB charging bank that had ‘Tooly’ written on the side.

O’Toole’s name and address were on the back of the parcel, Leading Sen Constable Kennedy said.

When police searched a “man cave” at O’Toole’s house in July 2021, they found a disassembl­ed air rifle, one live ammunition round, a BB pistol gun with pellets, a pen pistol and accompanyi­ng ammunition, a notebook containing evidence of drug traffickin­g and a container with a white crystal substance believed to be MDMA, Leading Sen Constable Kennedy said.

A receipt for the parcel was also found in his car.

When asked by police about the methamphet­amines in the parcel, O’Toole said “it was a birthday present” and he did not class it as dealing drugs, Leading Sen Constable Kennedy said.

“He sent me money and I got him something,” he told police.

The court heard when he was asked about the notebook, he said it “contains money owing to me, not necessaril­y for drugs”, but when asked why weights were listed he continued to deny he was a drug dealer, saying he was “just helping people out”.

The court heard O’Toole told police the air rifle belonged to a mate who brought it to him to get him to help fix it; however, in messages on his phone O’Toole referred to it as “mine”, Leading Sen Constable Kennedy said.

O’Toole also told police he had been given the pen pistol and ammunition by a friend a couple of months earlier.

O’Toole’s solicitor D’arcy Borzoula told the court that, as a welder, the firearms were what her client described as “more of a hobby with friends”.

“He’s a welder. He can work on firearms,” she said.

She also told the court her client started using methamphet­amines three years ago up until the time of this offending two years ago, but had stopped since then.

Magistrate Peter Mithen fined O’Toole $3000.

“You say you’re helping your mates with this traffickin­g. You’re not helping them at all,” he said.

“This is a dangerous drug in the community. It wrecks a lot of lives.”

Mr Mithen said he was satisfied that the guns were “more of a hobby”.

He warned O’Toole that he was close to being jailed.

“Your honesty with police is probably the only thing that kept you from a custodial sentence,” Mr Mithen said.

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