A WODONGA man charged with dealing the drug ice twice within weeks was yesterday given a “last chance” to avoid jail.
Benjamin Wilms, 23, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Albury District Court to one count of supplying drugs.
Judge Michael King, SC, sentenced Wilms to a two-year jail term but suspended it for two years after accepting he had made steps toward rehabilitating himself in the year he had been on bail.
Wilms was charged in August last year after police found him with 6.07 grams of ice and drug-dealing paraphernalia, including plastic bags of various sizes, two phones, scales and a list of names and numbers.
The court heard Wilms had the drugs on him while at Albury police station speaking with officers on another matter.
He’d already been there for more than two hours when they searched the black sports bag Wilms was carrying and found ice. They also found a glass pipe and syringe.
Prosecutors told the court Wilms had also been arrested just weeks later in Wodonga on similar charges, including drug trafficking, possessing ice and a fake handgun.
He was convicted for these crimes in April and sentenced to a 12-month jail term, which was also suspended for two years.
Defence barrister Brad Hughes, SC, said Wilms had made positive steps to turn his life around.
Mr Hughes said Wilms had been disowned by his father but his uncle had taken him in, trained him to be part of his concrete and drilling business and encouraged him to undertake counselling.
“He is at a turning point in his life ... in demonstrating his commitment to work, the court could have some confidence that the turning point could be permanent,” Mr Hughes said.
Wilms’ uncle gave evidence that he had been making sure his nephew stayed away from drugs and that he had “seen a vast improvement in his behaviour”.
“I have searched his room at certain times, checked his car at certain times and also kept tabs on where he goes,” his uncle said.
“He is not on drugs, he is keeping very fit and healthy and he works hard.”
Judge King said that while a jail term would be appropriate, there was also “a significant risk” that Wilms would lose the benefit of rehabilitative progress he had made by serving time in jail.
“It is in the community interest to provide what might be regarded as a last chance by suspending the sentence,” he said.