Creator of the website ‘Urban Sydney’, Lisa Danielle Stockbridge, has pleaded guilty to supplying drugs in exclusive suburbs like Rose Bay, Clovelly, Bondi, Bronte, Woollahra.
The 41-year-old socialite and mother was the last person that those who knew her would expect to be dealing drugs to hundreds of customers.
However, she has admitted selling drugs to customers in a range of innovative ways, including texting special deals such as “Buy two grams, get the third half price” or “Introduce a new customer, get $50 off your next gram.”
When she was arrested in December last year she was found with $33,620 cash in her apartment.
Police also found large amounts of ecstasy and cocaine in her apartment as well as ten mobile phones.
Using phones registered in fake names, she contacted up to 198 customers at a time with offers and arrangements to sell ecstasy and cocaine.
Stockbridge often used code words to describe the drugs and quantities, and often walked out to her car to type phone messages in case her home was bugged.
But police had been tracking her for years, and it turned out police installed optical surveillance into her company car as well as her home.
It was on September 5, 2013, when police got highly-incriminatory recordings of Stockbridge exchanging drugs for cash in her car.
This was the evidence they were after to arrest and charge her.
Police surveillance devices are increasingly popular with police, and the number of warrants requested for the devices goes up each year.
Such devices often turn out to be valuable police tools, and disastrous for drug suppliers, with about 73% of surveillance warrants leading to evidence being gained against suspects.
According to the Australian Law Reform Commission, the protection of privacy should be a primary consideration when issuing surveillance warrants, and the allowance of surveillance devices should be the exception to the rule, and used sparingly.
The Surveillance Devices Act was brought in primarily to assist with the investigation of terrorism, murder and drug manufacturing charges.
But they are often used to investigate other less-serious crimes, too.
The legislation means that with a warrant police can listen into your conversations, plant surveillance devices on your house, car or other property and use this evidence against you in court.
In some ‘emergency situations’, police will not even need a warrant.
An emergency situation is where all four of the following circumstances exist:
- there is an immediate threat of serious physical violence, substantial property damage or a drug offence occurring, and
- the use of a surveillance device is immediately necessary for the purpose of dealing with that threat, and
- the circumstances are so serious and the matter is of such urgency that the use of a surveillance device is warranted, and
- it is not practicable to apply for a surveillance device warrant.
Back to the Stockbridge case, she was originally charged in Dec 2013 but in July this year she was hit with three more charges, bringing the total number of charges to 13.
Her lawyer negotiated for eight of the charges against Stockbridge to be dropped in exchange of a guilty plea.
She appeared in Downing Centre Local Court for charges including supplying a commercial quantity of MDA and supplying MDMA and cocaine on an ongoing basis.
The case is ‘strictly indictable’ which means that it cannot be decided in the Local Court, and it has now been referred to Downing Centre District Court.
She faces a lengthy prison sentence – in fact, the most serious charge of supplying a commercial quantity of drugs carries a maximum penalty of $385,000 and/or life imprisonment.
Her case is scheduled to come before the District Court in November.
If you have been charged with a drug offence, any evidence against you must be collected in accordance with the law.
If police break the rules, a good drug lawyer may be able to have the evidence excluded.
For example, evidence that is collected without a warrant may be thrown out of court.
Similarly, a case can be thrown out if you were search illegally; in other words, if police did not have a suspicion ‘on reasonable grounds’ that you were committing an offence before they searched you.
In such cases, a specialist drug lawyer may be able to ensure that your charges are dropped entirely, leaving you free to get on with your life without even having to face a ‘defended hearing’ or ‘jury trial’.
So if you have doubts about the ways in which evidence against you was collected, make sure you speak to an experienced drug lawyer in order to get the information you need.