Cocaine-dealing pensioner jailed for three years

A SICK Northern Rivers pensioner who turned to cocaine dealing to fund his own addiction has been sentenced for his crimes.

Ronald James Mortimer was charged with commercial drug supply in August 2014 after police raided his rural home near Pottsville and found 183g of cocaine, 448 tablets of the ecstasy proxy MDA, and 990g of cannabis in sealed bags.

Police also found $82,400 in cash, which Mortimer claimed was his "life savings".

The court heard Mortimer had been living on a disability pension of $960 a fortnight at the time and was suffering from heart disease, diabetes, painful arthritis, and vision and hearing loss.

He had been living in Thailand, married to a Thai woman and working as a tailor and computer technician, before returning to Australia in 2010 following his divorce.

In candid interviews with police, Mortimer admitted he was a "small time cocaine dealer" who sold the drug to fund his habit of snorting at least half a gram a day for pain relief.

He said the cannabis was for personal use and also denied the MDA pills were his, claiming his old landlord had left them in his possession for safe keeping.

The court also heard he was vehemently opposed to the sale of the drug ice.

In sentencing Mortimer, acting Lismore District Court Judge G. Hosking said there was "something commendable" about his candour during the police interviews.

Mortimer had also assisted police in further drug investigations, meaning he would have to serve out his jail sentence in protective custody.

Judge Hosking also noted the "parlous state of health" of the defendant, mostly physically but also psychologically.

Mortimer was described as having a "general attitude of hopelessness" to life, who sometimes declared on bad mornings, "I wish I wouldn't wake up at all".

His arthritis and general joint pain meant he was likely to require mobility support in the near future.

Prosecutors had argued Mortimer was at a medium risk of reoffending but Judge Hosking said he was "more hopeful", arguing he was unlikely to reoffend, due to his age, health and relatively minor criminal record.

"Given his age and history I think he is unlikely to reoffend and likely to rehabilitate," Judge Hosking said.

Mortimer appeared via video link from Grafton prison for the sentencing.

He was sentenced to six years in jail with a three-year non-parole period.

He will eligible for parole in 10 months, having been in custody since August 2014.

The maximum sentence for commercial cocaine supply is 15 years, and 20 years for MDA supply.

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