John Gourley leaves Gladstone Court House after being convicted of drug trafficking.
John Gourley leaves Gladstone Court House after being convicted of drug trafficking.

NO TIME: Grandfather was a respite carer and drug trafficker

A GRANDFATHER and respite carer has narrowly missed serving actual jail time after he was convicted of drug trafficking in Gladstone District Court on Friday.

John Stewart Gourley, 63, aged 62 at the time of the offending, pleaded guilty to trafficking a dangerous drug, possessing a dangerous drug in excess of 500g, possessing a thing used in connection with trafficking a dangerous drug and possession of property suspected of being the proceeds of a drug offence.

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Crown prosecutor Samantha O’Rourke told the court a search warrant was conducted at Gourley’s home on November 6, 2019 where police located 30 pounds of marijuana in the ceiling packaged into pound bags.

She said police located 150g of marijuana in the front office of the home, digital scales, empty vacuum bags and $19,670 was found in the bedroom.

She said Gourley told police he was holding the drugs for another person, before making further admissions on four occasions he had stored marijuana at his address which was part of the principal’s trafficking business.

The court was told that between May 1 and November 5 he had stored 20 pounds on the first occasion, 10 pounds on the second, 15 pounds on the third and 15 and a half pounds on the fourth, the last two lots found during the search warrant.

Ms O’Rourke told the court Gourley would also make deliveries in one pound lots and collect money which he held before passing it onto the principal which Gourley was paid for with money.

Ms O’Rourke noted without Gourley’s admissions he would not have been charged with the trafficking offence.

Defence barrister Tom Polley said Gourley could not explain his actions and became involved due to financial stress and helping a friend from “an earlier life”.

He said Gourley only made up to $4000.

“This is not a case where that was used to have a lavish lifestyle and buy jet skis and holidays,” Mr Polley said.

He told the court Gourley had most recently been working as a casual respite carer however had been forced to stop due to these charges.

“He hails from a good, honest family background and it seems he’s been responsible for imposing that environment as well,” Mr Polley said.

“It came as a shock and horror to his immediate family.”

Judge Michael Burnett said this was a serious body of offending, noting the marijuana found was worth about $90,000.

“Drugs are a scourge in our community,” Judge Burnett said.

He said Gourley had missed time serving actual custody “only by a very close whisker.”

For the drug trafficking Gourley was sentenced to three years imprisonment, immediately suspended for three years.

For the drug possession he was sentenced to two years imprisonment immediately suspended for two years.

For the thing possession he was sentenced to three months imprisonment and for the money possession six months imprisonment, released on parole immediately.

Each sentence is to be served concurrently.

Part of the sentencing was held in closed session. The details of that are unknown.