N.B. Copyright in this transcript is the property of the Crown. If this transcript is copied without the authority of the Attorney-General of the Northern Territory, proceedings for infringement will be taken. __________
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY
THE QUEEN and MICHAEL COLIN WRIGHT (Sentence)
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS AT DARWIN ON THURSDAY 12 OCTOBER 2017
Transcribed by: Merrill Legal Solutions
HIS HONOUR: Well, the offender, Michael Sollitt Colin Wright comes before me on 12 October 2017. He faces two counts of possession of drugs of commercial quantity. Count 1 relates to MDMA and count 2 relates to cannabis. The offender was apprehended on the road when he was stopped for a breathalyser test and it was found that he possessed 4.48 kilograms of cannabis and 80 grams of MDMA. Looking at the commercial quantities under Misuse of Drugs Act, he had twice the minimum for MDMA and nine times the minimum for cannabis. These are serious offences. In normal circumstances, one would expect a substantial gaol penalty for these offences. Count 1 carries a maximum of 25 years. Count 2 carries a maximum of 14 years. However, this is an unusual case. There are substantial mitigating circumstances. The offender is 38 years of age and has no previous convictions. He made a relatively early plea and he has been in custody for some 46 days, since 29 August 2017. He has an excellent work history. He is a builder carpenter and in fact, he has got a job to go to and it is significant that members of his family and supporting people, including his employer are here in court. He has been married twice and has three children aged 17, 15 and 12. There is a reference from his second wife, which is very supportive of him. It is unusual that a man leading a seemingly normal life should suddenly find himself in this position. And, it seems to rest with his own spiral descent into drug use. One then looks as to why this happened. It is clear that he has suffered great trauma. He discovered his father had seriously sexually molested his daughters. He would have been torn between the love of his father and belief in his father and his daughters. It clearly seemed to take him some time to come to terms with what his father had done. His father must have committed very serious offences, because he is now doing 12 years in gaol. I suppose the reality of this must haunt the offender, who wrongly, but nevertheless understandably, believes that he is partly to blame because he was able to facilitate communication between the father and the children. I also hear and accept from Mr Maley that one of the daughters has now cut off contact with the offender. Of course, once one is taking drugs, the rest of one's life then falls apart. He became bankrupt and owed a drug dealer money and it is on that basis that he got involved in these offences. He agreed to carry the drugs to forego the debt.
I accept that he was going to make some profit out of the use of the MDMA, some thousands of dollars, but the cannabis was for a third party. Well, what Mr Wright has done is foolishly jeopardised his whole future. If he was to go to gaol, it would be for a substantial time. But, bearing everything into consideration and bearing in mind the sensible approach taken by the Crown, I am not going to impose a custodial sentence, in the sense that the sentence I do impose, will be wholly suspended. I also bear in mind that he has very significant and impressive references from Mr Schwab, his employer; Mr McMahon, a judo instructor; Teena Wright, his second wife and Mr Valenzuela, a friend. The basis, however, of suspending a sentence would be provided he addresses his drug use and addresses the psychological problems that have arisen as a consequence of the trauma that he sustained. In this case, the two factors that strike me as most important is first of all, rehabilitation. He has had a good life, he has made a bad mistake, but he is worth a chance and I hope he takes it. Secondly, general deterrence will be satisfied by an imprisonment term hanging over his head and the community will realise that there are substantial penalties for these offences. Bearing in mind the size of the cannabis haul, the sentence is going to be 3 years on each count. But, that would be served concurrently and the aggregate sentence would therefore be 3 years. I will give him a 50 percent discount for the early plea which would mean that the appropriate sentence would be 18 months. What I will do is sentence him for time spent, which is the 46 days, and that the balance of the term be wholly suspended subject to conditions 1 to 9 contain in the presentence report, which I will now read into the record. 1. The offender must not during the period of the order enforced commit another offence, whether in or outside the Territory, punishable on conviction by imprisonment. 2. The offender is under the ongoing supervision of a Probation and Parole officer and must obey all reasonable directions from a Probation and Parole officer and must report to a Probation and Parole officer immediately after the order comes into force. 3. The offender must tell a Probation and Parole officer of any change of address or employment within two clear working days after the change. 4. The offender must not leave the Territory, except with the permission of a Probation and Parole officer. 5. The offender will, at the direction of a Probation and Parole officer immediately enter into the Banyan House residential rehabilitation
program or any other program assessed as suitable and participate fully in that program and do nothing to cause their early discharge. 6. The offender will not consume a dangerous drug and will submit to testing as directed by a Probation and Parole officer for the purpose of detecting the presence of dangerous drugs. 7. The offender will participate in treatment/program type assessment counselling and/or treatment as directed by a Probation and Parole officer. 8. Whilst participating in a period of residential rehabilitation, the offender must wear or have attached an approved monitoring device in accordance with the directions of a Probation and Parole officer and allow the placing or installation in and retrieval from the premises, or place specified in the order of such machine, equipment or device necessary for the efficient operation of the monitoring device. 9. The offender shall comply with the electronic monitoring rules as stipulated in the rules for electronic monitoring document. MR LEDEK: Thank you, your Honour, if I may, just a number of things. With respect to the period of supervision that your Honour intends to impose, and the operational period, are they the same, or do they differ? HIS HONOUR: They are the same. MR LEDEK: And, what will be the period, your Honour? It wasn't necessarily clear. HIS HONOUR: Well, the period is the balance of the – there is 18 months, he has served 46 days. MR LEDEK: I see. Ordinarily, your Honour, in terms of making that calculation, if your Honour were to make it an operational period of 18 months it just tends to be much cleaner for Corrections in calculating exactly what it was that the period - - HIS HONOUR: Well, I am happy to do that. Are you happy to do that? MR MALEY: Yes. No problems, sir. It made sense to me. HIS HONOUR: Alright. We will do it that way. MR LEDEK: Is the setting of the supervision period and the operational period. HIS HONOUR: Supervision period will be 18 months.
MR LEDEK: Thank your Honour. HIS HONOUR: Alright. MR MALEY: And, the operational period will coincide with that as your Honour has just ordered. HIS HONOUR: And, the operational period will coincide with the supervision period. MR LEDEK: Thank your Honour. And, finally, there is one further application that was made and it is contained within the facts, as well as in the submissions, your Honour. There is a request for forfeiture of the vehicle, to be seized. HIS HONOUR: Yes. MR MALEY: Yes. Can't resist that, sir, given the circumstances. HIS HONOUR: I order forfeiture of the Toyota Cressida sedan, South Australian registration WRA 711, pursuant to s 34(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. MR LEDEK: The court pleases. MR MALEY: The court pleases. HIS HONOUR: Alright. Thank you. Well, good luck, Mr Wright. THE ACCUSED: Thank you. HIS HONOUR: You have an opportunity now, take it. Because, if you come back here, there is only one option. Do you understand? THE ACCUSED: I understand, your Honour. Thank you. HIS HONOUR: Okay. Alright. The accused is discharged from custody. _________________