A drug-dealing former top bikie caught with cocaine and thousands of dollars of illegally obtained cash was urged to make the most of his opportunity when he was spared being sent to jail.
“Make sure you don’t mess this one up,” ACT Supreme Court Justice David Mossop warned John Donald George Wright on Thursday (27 July).
The justice said police had been lawfully intercepting the phone calls of Wright, who is the former vice-president of the Canberra Rebels, and learned he was setting up a cannabis grow room with Adam Angelo Beniamini.
“Oh bro, it was perfect,” Beniamini told him after the plants had been put in the room.
Police raided the home in July 2021, discovering the grow room, over a kilogram of loose cannabis and the remains of 14 cannabis plants.
Meanwhile, Wright had also been heard talking about obtaining cocaine with Taran Lee Cummins from Bonner.
Police raided Cummins’ home while Wright was there in July 2021, finding 139 grams of cocaine which Justice Mossop said had a street value of between $24,000 and $55,000.
He said Wright continued to traffic cocaine after the police raids, giving it to a street dealer who sold the drug for $300 per gram.
When his own home was raided again, police found $15,730 in cash, knuckledusters, and about 12 grams of cocaine.
Justice Mossop said Wright had been the vice president of the Rebels in the ACT at the time of his arrest, but since then he had ceased his involvement in the gang.
He has returned his colours, obscured a tattoo and understands his actions would be seen as offensive to some members of the club.
The tiler has three children to three different women, who each provided a glowing reference about him to the court, Justice Mossop said.
He said somewhat surprisingly, Wright only had two convictions for offences in the ACT.
He also said there was a strong public interest in the rehabilitation of people who have been involved in outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Wright, who has also gone by the surname Winchester, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to cultivate a trafficable quantity of cannabis, money laundering, possessing a prohibited weapon and two counts of trafficking cocaine.
Justice Mossop said his prospects of rehabilitation were good and supervision in the community was likely to consolidate his trajectory.
The 48-year-old was convicted and sentenced to a three-and-a-half-year intensive corrections order, which is a community-based sentence.
He was also fined $25,500 and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service.
After the judge had handed down his sentence, Wright was spotted shaking hands with his solicitor, Peter Woodhouse of Aulich, and kissing his partner while his supporters hugged each other in the courtroom gallery.
Meanwhile, 39-year-old Beniamini also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to cultivate a trafficable quantity of cannabis.
On Wednesday (26 July), Justice Mossop said he had claimed the cannabis was for his personal use only. He was a previous member of the Canberra Rebels and had a lengthy criminal history.
Justice Mossop said sentences of imprisonment had not deterred Beniamini from further offending in the past and sentenced him to about 14 months’ jail with a nine-month non-parole period.
He was returned to custody. As his sentence was backdated to account for time served, he is eligible to be released in January 2024.