Police dog sniffs out drugs
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.