A BALLARAT man has been jailed for his role in a major drug trafficking operation that was run from a Melbourne gym in 2009.
Terry Atkinson, 55, was found guilty by a jury of one charge of trafficking methylamphetamines and two charges of trafficking MDMA.
A prominent member of the Ballarat Aboriginal community, Atkinson was jailed for three-and-a-half years with a non-parole period of one year.
Atkinson was jailed along with his co-accused Robert Knight, 38, who is a cousin of Essendon footballer Nathan Lovett-Murray.
The Victorian County Court heard that Knight, a former jiujitsu champion, began selling drugs to pay for his growing drug habit and as a means to solve his financial difficulties.
Atkinson, a member of Knight’s tribe who was involved with the gym because of his work with young Aboriginal men, aided Knight in the operation, though he received no personal gain for his involvement.
The Victorian Youth Support and Recreation Association had proposed that Knight open the gym with the aim of training young Aboriginal martial arts champions on the basis that they would pay half the rent and provide staff, the court heard.
The staff were never provided and funding was withdrawn after six months, leaving Knight working up to 90”hours a week at the struggling business and taking amphetamines to keep himself going, the court heard.
Judge Liz Gaynor said the men were truly remorseful and had good prospects of rehabilitation.
The court heard Knight had taken steps to improve his life, moving to the country and remaining drug-free while embarking on a music career.
Judge Gaynor said Atkinson, a member of the Stolen Generation who had been heavily involved in work within Aboriginal communities throughout his life, was a proud family man who was ashamed of his crimes.