Sex shop worker's three-year nightmare for selling drug
SHE was a low-paid sex shop worker caught up in a $350,000 fake marijuana trafficking ring that billed its product as "undetectable" to drug users across a large swathe of regional Queensland.
A stable $40,000 a year gig selling adult items and other products - including "teas" with mystical names like Godfather and Full Moon - turned into a three-year legal battle for Selena Suzanne Bloomfield.
Bloomfield worked for the Love Heart chain of adult stores across Queensland in 2014 and 2015.
Based at the Toowoomba shop, and earning just $770 a week, she sold a range of seemingly innocuous products - including three tea blends that looked like dried leaf - to the store's customers.
When she was not involved in the retail side of things, the now 34-year-old was responsible for the packaging of the "synthetic cannabis" at a Toowoomba property.
The drugs were then distributed to Love Heart's stores in Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg.
On Tuesday, Bloomfield pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court to one charge of trafficking a dangerous drug.
The court heard the University of Southern Queensland psychology student believed her boss's claim that the tea was legal - despite the synthetic drugs being outlawed in Queensland in 2013.
The Toowoomba arm of Love Hearts netted $31,000 of $351,000 in statewide sales of the drug over three months.
Synthetic marijuana duplicates the effects of real marijuana when consumed, usually by smoking.
Love Heart's staff - including Bloomfield - told users including mine workers that it was "undetectable" in drug tests.
The court heard Bloomfield continued selling the drug despite multiple customers complaining to her that they had suffered a range of serious side effects.
The court heard it was reports of illnesses impacting users that resulted in police investigating Love Hearts and eventually charging 15 people connected to the distribution and sale of the fake drug.
Defence barrister Isaac Munsie said Bloomfield was just an employee doing her job whose only mistake was believing her boss when he told her she was not breaking the law.
"She says she should not have taken the legal advice from her employer - she didn't profit at all."
Mr Munsie conceded Bloomfield played a key role in the packaging of the product for distribution to the other stores but again she believed she was acting within the bounds of the law.
"There was a huge turnover," he said.
"She understood the items that were being prepared in Toowoomba were meeting workplace guidelines."
Mr Munsie said his client's involvement in the drug ring ended her long-term relationship but she had taken major steps to better her life including going to university.
"As soon as she was charged she went to work at a shoe store," Mr Munsie said.
"She hasn't sat on her hands. She has moved on.
"She is now studying at USQ and is looking at entering psychology or science.
"She's done everything she can to move forward."
In releasing Bloomfield on a suspended two-year jail sentence, Judge Deborah Richards said it was clear Bloomfield's role was not significant.
"You were an employee and nothing more," Judge Richards said.
The Love Heart business owner, his state manager and 11 others will face court over the coming months.
One other person has already faced court for their role in the ring.