A formerly well-respected and highly-successful Sydney pharmacist has been sentenced to imprisonment after pleading guilty to commercial drug supply and dealing with proceeds of crime of more than $100,000.
The court heard that 61-year old Michael Lowe ran profitable pharmacies in Oatley and Condell Park for decades until June 2020, when police discovered he was playing a major role in a methylamphetamine (‘ice’) supply syndicate by storing drugs and money for members of the criminal underground.
Documents tendered to the court detailed that Mr Lowe’s decline into criminal behaviour began after a difficult separation with his wife, when he began to use ice a couple of times a week.
Mr Lowe’s criminal defence lawyers submitted in court that their client was motivated by the ‘camaraderie’ that came with his association with drug suppliers, rather than for profit or financial gai, and that his judgment was ‘clouded’ from the use of drugs.
They further submitted that an intensive correction order rather than full time imprisonment was appropriate in the circumstances.
“Due to my divorce, I developed a need for physical contact so I started doing ice. In this instance, there was no profit motive or financial gain, it was friendship and camaraderie that came as a result of my criminal involvement and association.”
“The major component of the supply charge was that it was difficult to procure ice and I acted as the go-between to obtain the product. I realise now this was wrong, but at the time my judgment was clouded by my own drug use.”
While Judge Williams was not convinced by the explanation, nor that an intensive correction order was appropriate in the circumstances, his Honour did accept that Mr Lowe was genuinely remorseful.
He sentenced the pharmacist to a full term of five years in prison with a minimum of three years and nine months.
Given time already served, Mr Lowe will be eligible to apply for release on parole on 9 June 2024.
Commercial drug supply
Drug Supply is an offence under section 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985. It includes:
Supplying or knowingly partaking in supply of a prohibited drug in ways including selling and distributing, agreeing to supply, offering to supply, keeping or having prohibited substances in possession for supply.
It also includes sending, forwarding, delivering or receiving for supply, authorizing, directing, and causing supply.
Prohibited drugs are listed in Schedule 1 of the same act.
What the prosecution must prove
The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person:
- Supplied, or knowingly took part in the supply of, a substance,
- That substance was a prohibited drug, and
- Knew, or believed at the time, that the substance was a prohibited drug.
Supply or deemed supply of a prohibited drug is a more serious offence than drug possession, and the penalties are much higher. Penalties prescribed by the court depend upon the type and quantity of the prohibited drug. Some of the most commonly dealt phibited drugs in Australia include ecstacy, cannabis, ice, heroin and cocaine.
Offences involving commercial drug supply are dealt with in a higher court, such as the District Court.
Commercial quantities of prohibited drugs include: 25 kilograms of cannabis 250 grams of cocaine, heroin or crystal methamphetamine (or ‘ice’) and 125 grams of ecstacy.
The maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment (15 years for cannabis) and/or a $385,000 fine.