A young man will join his uncle in prison after they both instigated a major drug operation in Ballarat, making and selling pills at nightclubs.
Nathan Weightman, 23, was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment at the County Court of Victoria on Thursday for trafficking drugs and possessing a pill press.
For the first time, The Courier can reveal his uncle, Ian Weightman, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' imprisonment in April last year for the same offences. A suppression order prohibiting the 62-year-old's case details was lifted following his nephew's sentence.
Three years ago, the Weightmans started making and selling thousands of inexpensive pills from Ian Weightman's Redan home. They carried out the drug business with a then 19-year-old DJ, Peter Moore.
The Weightman's bought and set up a pill press to make the drugs, which Moore sold to patrons at Ballarat nightclubs.
Some of the pills contained low levels of the drug MDMA.
The Weightman men made a batch of pills emblazoned with Transformer logos, while on another day Moore helped Nathan work the press to make 2000 pills.
On another occasion, Nathan turned up at the Golden Point home he shared with Moore carrying a bag of 2000 yellow pills marked with a Homer Simpson emblem.
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Three months after starting the drug business, police searched the trio's houses in October, uncovering a large quantity of pills and powder, cash and drug paraphernalia associated with trafficking.
Nathan persisted with a plea of not guilty for two-and-a-half years before he admitted to dealing the drugs and possessing the tablet press long after he was committed to stand trial.
His uncle pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April last year.
County Court Judge John Smallwood said he was not buying into the relationship Nathan had with his uncle but it was "pretty ordinary behaviour" Ian suddenly turned around at the last minute and gave an undertaking against his nephew.
He told Nathan during the sentencing hearing he knew what he was getting into and his offending must be regarded as serious.
"Clearly over that period of time a very significant number of pills were manufactured by you and your uncle for the purpose of selling for profit and Mr Moore was involved in all that in terms of trafficking and the distribution," Judge Smallwood said.
"Your offending has to be regarded as serious. It's over an extended period of time and yours is a situation where it's clear that you were very much involved in it.
"You were certainly aware of the potential consequences of this. As I understand two of your uncles in fact have been incarcerated previously for having pill presses and trafficking.
I have no doubt you were aware of the potential consequences at least of what could have occurred.Judge John Smallwood
"You are to be sentenced for a serious example of trafficking over an extended period of time where you knew what you were doing and you were an instigator and directly involved in it."
Aged 21 at the time of the offending, Nathan was using drugs and this was part of his lifestyle while his uncle Ian was "no stranger to making pills with a pill press", the judge said.
Nathan's defence counsel said Nathan had now rehabilitated and drugs were no longer a problem.
The judge told Nathan he had pleaded guilty late in the court process and co-accused Moore gave evidence against him at a contested committal hearing.
"In this situation a degree of delay has been brought about by your persistence of a plea of not guilty, you are entitled to do that," Judge Smallwood said.
The judge said he took into account Nathan's good work ethic, family support and his rehabilitation "which means the risk of you re-offending should be low, depending on the future".
He said Nathan had been on bail for the past two-and-a-half years, which included a curfew from 9pm to 6am and he reported to police twice a week for several months.
Nathan, who was born in Ballarat and moved to Mildura, became a successful harness racing driver after he obtained his licence when he was 16. He lost his licence due to the drug offences, but has since regained it.
"I am very aware you are still a very young man, I am very aware you haven't offended since (2017) and I am very aware that you have no prior convictions," Judge Smallwood said.
Nathan was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight months. He has served 14 days of the sentence.
If he did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for two years with a minimum of 15 months before being eligible for parole, according to the judge.
Nathan pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking and one count each of possessing a tablet press and dealing with proceeds of crime.
Judge Gavan Meredith sentenced Ian Weightman in April, 2019, after he pleaded guilty to trafficking a drug of dependence and possessing a tablet press.
Judge Mark Gamble sentenced Moore to 10 months' youth detention in May, 2018, after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and possessing a pill press.
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