Pen-pistol maker was using ice "to boost performance"

A SELF-employed business starter had used ice as a “work performance enhancing drug”, a barrister said yesterday.

Dean Jordan SC said Benjamin Vagg had fallen into the trap of believing he had his drug use under control, but had lost perspective and became obsessive about his new business.

The Corowa metalworker appeared in the District Court at Albury yesterday over producing two pen pistols, discovered by police during a raid on his business on November 1 last year. 

Judge Martin Blackmore said there was no evidence the pen pistols were intended to be sold.

But he pondered why Vagg, 34 and a father of three, would produce the weapons considering the serious penalties involved, with a maximum jail term of 20 years.

Vagg has been in custody since his arrest last year and appeared for sentencing on charges of manufacturing a prohibited firearm and possessing a prohibited firearm.

Four other charges 

relating to a trench knife, a slingshot, a sil-encer and a pen pistol were taken into consideration on sentencing.

Judge Blackmore imp-

osed a maximum jail term of three years, with a minimum of 15 months, on the manufacturing charge and a concurrent 12 months for possessing the pen pistols.

The pen pistols were found in a police raid at his Corowa business, Ben’s Mobile Welding Fabrication.

Judge Blackmore said Vagg had impeccable character before his 

arrest for the offences.

Mr Jordan said Vagg now could not explain why he got involved in manufacturing pen pistols although he had had an interest in firearms from a young age.

“He just decided it was an interesting challenge to make these weapons,” Mr Jordan said.

But Vagg was told he should have turned his mind to what could have happened if the weapons fell into the wrong hands.

Mr Jordon said Vagg had received a hard lesson about the insidious side of substance abuse.

However, he had good prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to reoffend after his first time in jail.

Judge Blackmore warned of the dangers of ice.

“Unfortunately at the time of offending, he had begun use of the drug ice,” Judge Blackmore said.

He said those using it had reported being able to stay awake for days.

Judge Blackmore said he had seen the implications of ice use within the Albury community through his involvement in several sentencing matters linked to the drug.

He said it impacted on people from all backgrounds and positions within the community.

“No one is immune from this drug,” Judge Blackmore said.

It inevitably leads to the downfall of many people and ultimately periods in jail.

Judge Blackmore has ordered that Vagg should attend drug rehabiliation while on parole.