‘I can’t go to jail, I’m an Airbnb superhost’
A Brisbane businessman accused of pushing ice and cannabis via an encrypted app and helping hold a woman captive in his home, used his coveted Airbnb status to argue he deserved to be granted bail.
Alan Whitley, a 55-year-old businessman who has worked in "high powered" jobs, but the Supreme Court court judge noted he had used drugs for 40 years, faces 15 charges including eight counts of supplying ice and cannabis in March, April and May.
He was already on bail for deprivation of liberty and demanding property for allegedly organising in January for a woman to come to his home, where she was allegedly bound to a chair with duct tape by another woman and threatened with a Samurai sword over a debt.
The alleged captive was told they could do it "the easy way or the hard way", prosecutor Zachary Kaplan told the court.
"If you try and do anything I will slice your tongue off," the woman is alleged to have told the female captive.
Whitley, who was born in Wales, was remanded in Arthur Gorrie prison for more than a month, since May 22, after police arrested him at his home on Wilde St, Wynnum, and charged him over ice supply.
He was arrested at the same residence where he rents out the bottom floor through AirBnB, court documents state.
In an affidavit tendered to the Supreme Court when applying for bail, Whitley argued he needed to maintain his "superhost" status and could not do so from a jail cell.
"My house is listed on Airbnb and this is currently my family's only source of income," he said.
"I am a Super Host and I am at risk of losing this status while incarcerated.
"My partner is struggling to maintain the house and business, and I cannot help her while I am incarcerated".
Whitley's barrister Martin Longhurst argued the crown case for ice supply was not strong and his client was well-educated and owned his own home.
"My client, differently from many people who come before the court, is a man who on the surface is otherwise a very successful professional man," Mr Longurst told Justice Jean Dalton during a hearing on June 13.
"He's well qualified, Masters level education, has had significant management roles and currently runs his own business. He is not, to use the vernacular, some junkie coming before the court."
Justice Dalton said: "It doesn't matter whether he sits at home in a new lounge room and uses meth in a civilised way after dinner … he is still breaking the law."
Whitley was allegedly busted on phone intercepts by police who were covertly targeting alleged Bayside ice-ring member Bradley David Thompson, of Victoria Point.
Whitley is accused of supplying ice to Thompson in March and April, communicating through the encrypted app Wickr and using his mobile phone because he and Thompson allegedly "struggled with using" Wickr, the police court brief states.
Detective Senior Constable Thomas Buckman told prosecutors that police investigating Whitley and the alleged ice ring "strongly oppose bail" because Whitley has refused to give police access to his phone and tablet computer, which "are believed to hold valuable investigative information", despite a magistrate ordering him to co-operate.
Whitley is also charged with breaching an order to give access to his devices.
He told the court on June 9 that he began using amphetamines as a teen and used ice recreationally for the past five years.
"However my usage recently increased and my life has spiralled out of control" he told the court.
But weeks later he said he had "overstated" his drug use, and that it had "increased" recently, but previously it was just recreational.
Whitley told the court he does not accept the charges "as they stand" and he intends to plead not guilty.
He was granted bail on June 25 by Justice Helen Bowskill on conditions including no contact with his co-accused Alana Wooster, and a ban on encrypted apps and drugs.
"Custody is extremely scary and difficult for me. I have never been so afraid in my life," Whitley told the court in his affidavit.
"I have had a huge wake up call while being incarcerated with other drug affected people," Whitley told the court in his statement.
"I am dedicated to getting my life back on track and remaining drug free."
He moved to Queensland in 1990 to work on building the Smith Chips factory at Tingalpa, and worked there for ten years. He then worked as a manager with Arnotts for seven years at factories in Adelaide and the Brisbane suburb of Virginia, the court heard.
He is due in Wynnum Magistrates Court on July 15 on the drugs charges.