Hands gripping jail bars tightly
Hands gripping jail bars tightly

Justice tells young drug offender the perils of prison

“YOU’LL get to experience the horror of your lack of liberty and the constant daily threats that will occur in those institutions.”

That was the warning Justice Graem Crow issued Matthew Dunbar Priddle, if he were ever to darken the doors of the Rockhampton Supreme Court again.

“You’ll get to go to a place like Capricornia (Correctional Centre) – you’ll get to sleep in a cell, no bigger than that dock with another man who may be a murderer,” he said.

“You’ll be sleeping within a foot of him, he’ll be stepping over you to use the toilet – there’s no barrier between the toilet, and you and him.

“Prison is a place where a lot of assaults occur, some are reported, some are not.

“And you are one heartbeat away from going there.”

Priddle was released immediately on a two-year suspended sentence on Monday in relation to three drug possession charges early last year.

He appeared in custody, supported by family in the gallery, to face two counts of possession of dangerous drug (methamphetamine and cocaine), and one count of aggravated possession (meth).

The court heard that on April 9, 2019, police searched Priddle’s Springsure home where they found three pipes, three phones, and .22 grams of meth in a clip seal bag – Priddle was not home at the time.

On that same day, police pulled over Priddle in Wealwandangie, south of Sprinsure, driving a truck.

The truck was searched and police found 3.8grams of meth, .943grams of cocaine in a magnetic box under the driver’s seat, and two pipes.

Police also confiscated Priddle’s phone and upon searching that phone, they determined the offender purchased meth for personal use every two to three weeks. He also requested certain batches.

The search also found he had been seeking cocaine.

Priddle’s defence put forward his work history, good upbringing, negligible criminal history and abstinence from drugs as mitigating factors for Justice Crow to consider.

The court heard the 26 year old was a good, hard worker in his position at his family’s farming transport business as a diesel fitter and had been so constantly since his teen years.

A letter to the court from his father attested to his hard-working nature and said he was integral to the business’s operation.

Priddle also passed 30 consecutive drug tests during bail which Justice Crow described as “as many as I’ve seen.”

While delivering his sentence, Justice Crow pleaded to the young-man not to let drugs control his life – even during the low points.

“Most people drop out, they drop out of work, they drop out of their family, they drop out of society, what they don’t drop is the drug, they love the drug, and they’ll do anything to get it,” he said.

Justice Crow acknowledged Priddle’s good character and intelligence and said it was unusual to see someone with such a disposition in the Supreme Court.

He highlighted the fact the vast amount of cases seen in Rockhampton courts stem, to some extent, from the use of methamphetamine.