The Courier-Mail

Virgin staffer’s job loss sparked a spiral into drugs and crime

- GREG STOLZ

A FORMER Virgin Australia worker who lost his job through COVID and went into a “downward spiral” of drugs, crime and homelessne­ss has escaped conviction­s for more than 20 offences after a magistrate said aviation had “suffered greatly” because of the pandemic.

Trent Connor Weidemann, 42, pleaded guilty in Southport Magistrate­s Court yesterday to 21 charges, including burglary, stealing and drug offences. The court heard that Weidemann worked as an airline dispatcher for Virgin and a flight attendant for Emirates during a 10year career in aviation.

But he lost his job at the start of the pandemic and began using methamphet­amine and committing crime, including breaking into Gold Coast apartment buildings to steal goods, including push bikes.

Defence lawyer Rachel Barnes told the court that Weidemann was in a downward spiral and became homeless. “He was using drugs throughout this period … he looks back and can’t believe it was him,” Ms Barnes said.

“It was a really difficult time.” Ms Barnes said that Weidemann was now drug-free and having ongoing counsellin­g.

She said he had enrolled in a child, youth and family interventi­on course at TAFE and a conviction would impact on his chances of getting a Blue Card,

Magistrate Kathleen Payne said

Weidemann had previously had an “exceptiona­l career” in aviation, an industry she noted had been “hit harder than most” by COVID.

Ms Payne said she took into account the fact that the aviation industry had “suffered greatly” from COVID-19 and that conviction­s could harm Weidemann’s rehabilita­tion prospects. She sentenced him to two years on probation, but did not record conviction­s.

Weidemann told her that his behaviour had been “abhorrent”.

 ??  ?? Trent Weidemann (right) outside court.
Trent Weidemann (right) outside court.

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