A drug-addicted amputee who pleaded guilty to trafficking ice while working for a Mackay kingpin claims the a penalty that involved spending 18 months behind bars was too harsh given his disability.
A drug-addicted amputee who pleaded guilty to trafficking ice while working for a Mackay kingpin claims the a penalty that involved spending 18 months behind bars was too harsh given his disability.

Drug-addicted amputee says 18 months in jail is too long

A drug-addicted amputee who acted as a "go-fer" for a Mackay ice kingpin has argued having to spend 18 months behind bars is too harsh because the hard floors and crowds will be too difficult with his disability.

John Gavin Fisher worked for a man referred to in a recently published supreme court document as Cowan, who headed a syndicate trafficking meth in the sugar city and Southeast Queensland.

Aged 45 To 46, he pushed ice to his boss's customer base of about 20 people - police identified 1853 communications between Fisher and Cowan during the offending period.

John Gavin Fisher was jailed for five years to serve 18 months for trafficking ice. Picture: Supplied
John Gavin Fisher was jailed for five years to serve 18 months for trafficking ice. Picture: Supplied

 

Fisher also carried out weekly tasks for Cowan including supplying and collecting drugs, collecting drug debts, acting as his driver and on one occasion sampling the meth to test its quality.

In his role as a collector, Fisher and Cowan discussed the use of threats and violence at least four times including agreeing to snatch a woman's phone to delete his boss's number.

Another time Cowen congratulated Fisher on assaulting a female customer.

The court documents stated there was no evidence of substantial monetary reward just "small cash payments and remuneration with drugs".

"(His) role was essentially that of a "go-fer" for Cowan," it said.

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In July 2020 Fisher pleaded guilty in the supreme court to trafficking ice and supplying marijuana. He was jailed for five years, suspended after serving 18 months.

As a result, he filed an application in the supreme court for leave to appeal the sentence.

It was accepted at the time his life had been ruined by drugs, but he was "currently drug free and that he had, as a result of his poor health, significant mobility issues".

Fisher had worked as a plumber but lost his business because of his methylamphetamine addiction.

His lifestyle resulted in a Type 2 diagnosis, and he had to have his left leg below the knee and two toes on his right foot amputated.

He became homeless and had to move in with his ill elderly parents, for who he acted as the carer.

John Gavin Fisher lost his business because of his drug addiction. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
John Gavin Fisher lost his business because of his drug addiction. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News

 

Fisher met Cowan while working for him as a labourer, which evolved into working in his drug business.

He cleared six drug screens in the six-month lead up to his supreme court sentencing date in 2020.

At the time the sentencing judge found despite the mitigating factors, the penalty "required actual custody to reflect the need for denunciation".

In the notice of appeal he argued the length of actual custody was manifestly excessive, not in line with a penalty imposed on a co-accused and did not reflect Fisher's rehabilitation and "the significance of imprisonment given his disabilities".

Fisher has argued he should have been dealt with on the basis his culpability was the equivalent of a street level dealer.

"I am not convinced, in any event, that it is correct to equate his culpability with that of a street level dealer," Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said in the recent judgment.

"His work for Cowan involved a variety of activities which facilitated the operation of a significant drug trafficking business, and the willingness to contemplate or threaten violence suggests a relatively hardened offender.

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"In relation to the particular factors of (Fisher's) rehabilitation and the effect of imprisonment in light of his diabetes and limb loss … an argument that inadequate consideration was given to them cannot support an independent appeal ground.

"The evidence that his disabilities would cause particular hardship in prison was very limited, being articulated as his difficulties with hard floors and crowds.

"There was no reason to suppose that his diabetes could not be properly managed in custody or that the difficulties consequent on the loss of his leg and toes would be very much greater in custody than they obviously would be elsewhere."

Justice Holmes refused the application for leave to appeal the penalty.


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