An American citizen was unaware he was travelling to the Rainbow Serpent dance festival in a vehicle allegedly loaded with drugs, a court has been told.
Pedro Gomide, a well-known figure in the international music and entertainment industry, was travelling to the Lexton festival on January 17 with co-accused and ‘glamping’ business operator Martin Joseph Mahoney.
Police stopped the pair at a Warrenheip service station to allegedly find Mahoney’s vehicle full of drugs, cash and drug paraphernalia.
Gomide, 36, and Mahoney, 35, fronted the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday for a committal hearing, but the charges had resolved.
Gomide, a Brazilian who lives in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to possessing a drug of dependence after the prosecution withdrew more than 10 charges.
Mahoney, of Melbourne, indicated he would plead guilty to six trafficking and possessing drugs offences after the withdrawal of seven charges.
Defence lawyer David Tamanika, representing Gomide, told the court his client should be placed on a diversion program because he had no prior convictions, had spent 24 days in custody and had experienced financial hardship.
He said Gomide’s work in the music and entertainment industry included production manager, assisting to organise tours, online music producer and DJing.
“He has had to turn down opportunities. He has run out of funds and it has been difficult for him,” Mr Tamanika said.
He said Gomide would have to leave Australia immediately and re-enteringthe United States would be difficult if there was a finding of guilt.
Magistrate Mark Stratmann told Gomide the court regarded drug offences very seriously but took into account he had no knowledge of the alleged drugs in Mahoney’s vehicle.
“Your decision to hitch a ride to the festival was a poor one,” Mr Stratmann said.
He placed Gomide on the diversion program, which was supported by the prosecution. He was ordered to pay $1500 to the Ballarat Health Services emergency department.
The diversion program means Gomide has avoided a criminal record.
Mahoney will apply for summary jurisdiction in October to have his case heard in the Magistrate’s Court instead of it going to a higher court.
His barrister, Jacob Kantor said an adjournment would allow mental reports to be prepared to support the application.
Mr Stratmann granted the adjournment and extended Mahoney’s bail, which includes daily reporting at a police station, $100,000 surety and twice-weekly urine testing.
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