A man who admitted making “$80,000 to $90,000 per fortnight” selling drugs has been given a suspended prison sentence in the ACT Supreme Court.
Instead of jail, 39-year-old Adam Pearce will undertake a drug and alcohol treatment order (DOTA) – a sentence Acting Justice Verity McWilliam described as “much harder” than jail time.
“This is not a ‘soft’ option,” she said during her sentencing remarks on 8 April.
“It doesn’t have deprivation of liberty but it is intensive, often participants find it more difficult than imprisonment.”
She said previous jail terms imposed on Mr Pearce had been unsuccessful. Without court supervision, there was a possibility he could spend the rest of his life in and out of prison.
She instead felt the DOTA was more appropriate as a chance for him to “get his act together”.
Mr Pearce is expecting the birth of a child within the next two weeks, which Acting Justice McWilliam acknowledged as a “double whammy” with the DOTA beginning on 8 April.
“You are in a position where your life in the next couple of months will be at peak stress,” she said to Mr Pearce.
“But you can do it. I form the view that you can do it, so don’t let me down.”
Mr Pearce’s DOTA will last for two years, ending on 7 April 2024, before he is subject to a good behaviour order until 7 October 2025.
If he was deemed not suitable for the program, he would have been sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
Mr Pearce pleaded guilty to trafficking a controlled drug other than cannabis and dealing with proceeds of crime on 14 October, 2021.
He was first arrested on 4 January, 2021, after police executed search warrants on his Taylor home, personal vehicle and his person.
A plastic container was seized in the home which contained about 70 grams of heroin, with an approximate street value ranging from $34,000 to $204,000.
The search also revealed $80,000 hidden inside a speaker, a crossbow and another $10,000 in cash.
“The role he played appeared to be as a mid-level drug dealer,” Acting Justice McWilliam said.
Two scheduled offences of possessing a drug of dependence and possessing a prohibited weapon were also taken into account during sentencing.
Acting Justice McWilliam said Mr Pearce made several omissions to police as they conducted their searches, including that balloons, bags and rubber bands found in the home were used at the dining table to organise drugs for deals.
Mr Pearce has completed rehabilitation programs in the past, but Acting Justice McWilliam said it was clear these did not lead to long-term success.
“He has not, to date, surrounded himself with people who will lift him up,” she said.
She did note, however, that since his latest rehab program he has stayed away from previous contacts and has instead focused his efforts on his pregnant partner.
“You are being given tools to avoid relapsing,” she told Mr Pearce.