A YOUNG Ipswich tradesman, who fell into the "black hole” of drug culture in Brisbane's nightclub precinct, has narrowly escaped jail.
Regan Peter Howett, 19, pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday to drug trafficking and supply.
The court heard Howett had been given a job as promoter at the Met nightclub in Fortitude Valley when he became addicted to the party drug MDMA and started selling pills to support his own habit.
Howett was arrested after he was searched at the club and found with more than 30 pills, a knife and a phone containing messages linked to drug supply.
The court previously heard Howett had used heart and lightning bolt "emojis” in messages as code for deals.
Crown Prosecutor Amanda Robinson said on Friday that despite being charged and released on bail following the nightclub search, Howett failed to heed the warning and continued selling to a loyal customer base of up to 29 party-goers.
She said it appeared Howett had been "sucked into the black hole that is the drug culture” and was abusing "unusually exorbitant” amounts of the drug himself.
Howett's five and a half months as a drug trader was put to a stop when a search of his Springfield Lakes home uncovered more MDMA pills and another phone detailing further deals.
The court heard Howett came from a "good family” and his parents, who were in court to support him, worked in finance and had been able to fund the services of Michael Copley SC - the high profile barrister who defended wife killer Gerard Baden-Clay.
Mr Copley told the court that along with supporting him financially, Howett's parents were paying for costly regular drug testing and continued to encourage him as he took on a new trade and re-joined the youth orchestra choir.
He said messages sent from Howett's phone just before the raid, in which he told a friend he was "done” and starting to get his life "back on track”, showed his client was already taking steps to change before his second arrest.
He also hit out at nightclub owners who employed impressionable young people saying it was "entirely inappropriate for a boy” to be working in such a seductive environment.
Justice David Boddice said he had walked into the courtroom ready to send Howett to jail but had been persuaded that there was no benefit to him or the community in doing so.
He said history showed that "young men do stupid things” and was prepared to accept that Howett had been "very socially and emotionally immature and needy”.
"People of your age don't seem to understand that selling to others - even friends does not make it legal - it is still trafficking,” Justice Boddice said
"It has terrible impact on young people who become quickly addicted - they then have to engage in criminal conduct to fund their habit - it is a terrible problem in the community.”
In sentencing Howett to four years jail, wholly suspended, Justice Boddice warned that if he ever came back before him for drug offences, he would have "great difficulty” convincing the court he should not serve the full term.
Howett was also sentenced to 18 months jail for the supply offences but released on immediate parole.
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