By his own admission, Jamie MacDowell made a “stupid” decision recently.
The Scottish tourist posted an online ad in a local Gold Coast classified which read:
“Got some good coke in Surfers. $300 a g.”
Just hours later, who else but an undercover police officer sent him the following text message:
“Hey, looking for Cola on the GC.”
The pair arranged to meet at Cash Converters on the southern end of the Coast to complete the deal.
Unbeknownst to the officer, MacDowell’s “coke” was actually granulated ibuprofen.
Police nevertheless arrested and charged MacDowall with supplying a prohibited drug.
He pleaded guilty in Southport District Court, where Judge Katherine McGinness was taken aback by the foolishness of the man before her.
“How you did not think you would be caught is unbelievable,” Her Honour remarked.
“Didn’t you make a stupid decision?”, she asked. “Yes, very stupid”, MacDowell replied.
The hapless dealer’s criminal defence barrister explained that his client was “desperate for money to pay for rent and food” as he was “between jobs”, which is why he concocted the doomed plan.
Even though the substance was not an illegal drug, the fact MacDowell represented it as so meant he was still guilty of drug supply under Queensland law.
He was ultimately slapped with an $800 fine but escaped a criminal conviction.
He is expected to return to Scotland in the near future.
Selling fake drugs in NSW
In NSW, a person who misrepresents a substance as a prohibited drug, poison, plant or psychoactive substance is similarly guilty of supplying that substance.
“A substance (not being a prohibited drug) which, for the purpose of its being supplied, is represented (whether verbally, in writing or by conduct) as being a prohibited drug… shall… be deemed to be a prohibited drug…”
Subsections (1A), 2 and 3 apply to poisons, prohibited plants and psychoactive substances respectively.
A fine but no conviction?
Courts in Queensland are permitted to impose fines for criminal offences without also having to record convictions.
The situation in NSW is different. Here, any person who is given a fine for a criminal offence will also have a conviction recorded against their name.
The only way for a guilty person to escape a conviction in NSW is to receive a ‘section 10’ – which means guilty but no conviction recorded.
A section 10 can come with a good behaviour bond of up to two years, but cannot be accompanied by a fine.
Don’t post online!
Mr MacDowall’s case is certainly not the first time the internet has been instrumental in helping police detect drug offenders.
Also on the Gold Coast, a man who posed for a sexy bathroom selfie with a stash of marijuana and posted it online in 2015 found himself quickly arrested for possessing a prohibited drug.
And a Lismore man who recently took a video of his $700k marijuana crop and posted it on Facebook, also found police on his doorstep executing a search warrant and placing him under arrest.