Ballarat drug dealer sent to prison

A BALLARAT drug dealer will spend a minimum of nine months behind bars after this week pleading guilty to a string of offences committed  during a four-month police operation.

Shawn Michael Burton, 40, pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates Court to trafficking cannabis, as well as other drug-related and driving offences.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Steve Kent told the court Burton was the focus of a major police investigation into drug trafficking in Ballarat and Bendigo that started in June 2011.

According to the prosecution summary, 2.24 kilograms of cannabis, and cash and equipment worth about $50,000 was seized from a Humffray Street South address on October 17, 2011.

Senior Constable Kent told the court police had observed Burton’s communications on his mobile phone, where he referred to drugs in code by using words such as “chickens”, “kievs”, “elbows” and “nuggets”.

Burton was also spotted driving a car on four different occasions during the police surveillance, although he did not hold a valid driver’s licence.

His defence lawyer Robert Tyson said his client had since been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and had started receiving medication.

“Once he has been diagnosed and medicated he has been free of trouble. Since the medication he is a more than decent person,” he said.

Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said she was left with little option but to impose a jail sentence. 

Burton was sentenced to 15 months in prison, with a nine-month minimum.