Crystal meth use behind town crime

A MAN throws himself around his cell at the Ballarat police station. 

Armed police can’t control him. 

His lawyer can’t speak to him because he makes no sense. 

He has been awake for more than 10 days and, according to his lawyer, his body is convulsing uncontrollably.

In that 10 days he hasn’t stopped using ‘ice’.

He has driven in this condition. He has shopped in this condition. He has burgled homes in this condition. 

His lawyer says she has never seen anything like it.

He will take days to return to some kind of ‘normal’ state. 

There is nothing unusual about this scenario at the Ballarat law courts. 

It’s just shy of midnight on January 11 this year and a 72-year-old woman is walking home alone.

A car load of men stop beside her. 

A 20-year-old Gordon man, who later pleads guilty to the attack, jumps out, knocks the terrified grandmother to the ground and steals almost $2000 cash from her bag. 

A drug user since his early teens, this young man recently began using ice. 

All the telltale signs of self destruction were there. 

In 2012, before he attacked and robbed the elderly woman, he broke another man’s jaw in an unprovoked attack outside the Bluestone nightclub. 

Again, he was high on ice. 

In my experience as a court reporter over the past six months, ice is the culprit behind the majority of crime in this town.

And it doesn’t discriminate.

Often it’s the motive behind petty shop thefts.

Supermarkets seem to be a prime candidate for users stealing to support escalating habits which can easily drum up thousands of dollars in drug debts.

It’s not uncommon for the courts to hear of men and women using more than $3000 worth of the drug per week. 

It’s on a daily basis that defence lawyers tell the court “at the time of the offending my client was using ice”.

Former regional co-ordinating magistrate for the Grampians Region and now County Court judge, Peter Couzens, recently said ice was a terrible issue affecting all corners of the community. 

Departing Ballarat after four years, Mr Couzens said ice was “rife” in Ballarat and causing the courts “enormous concern”. 

pat.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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