Parole ’best chance’ for relapsed trafficker

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A seasoned drug trafficker whose bags of methamphetamine and heroin were uncovered during a police raid of his flat has been jailed by the Victorian County Court.

Binh Nguyen, a 52-year-old father of four, pleaded guilty to trafficking as well as dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Nguyen answered the door when police with a search warrant arrived at his home on 18 February 2019, the court heard.

The officers seized four bags of heroin powder, as well as two bags of methamphetamine mixture. In purity terms, 13 grams of heroin and 12 grams of meth were seized.

A “large number” of snap-lock deal bags and $250 cash were also seized.

Nguyen told police that he’d bought the ‘ice’ for personal use for $1500. He said he didn’t know about the heroin.

In sentencing on 19 March, Judge Michael Cahill said Nguyen’s guilty plea to trafficking indicated that he was intending to sell the drugs.

The court heard Nguyen’s father had died before he was born. He and his three older siblings were raised by his mother alone in Vietnam.

At 21, Nguyen fled by boat. He spent two years in a refugee camp in the Philippines where he met his wife of 25 years.

In Australia, Nguyen was introduced to heroin by nightclubbing friends about 2000. He started offending when he took meth.

In 2004 he received a suspended jail term at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court for trafficking heroin.

For 12 years, Nguyen was law-abiding until he relapsed into drug use and his marriage broke down. His wife and four adult-aged children rejected him and he stopped working, Judge Cahill said.

In 2015, Nguyen was back before Dandenong Magistrates’ Court for trafficking heroin.

A Dandenong magistrate sentenced him on a drug treatment order (DTO) in 2018 for trafficking meth, proceeds of crime and having a prohibited weapon.

His performance on the DTO was “poor”, Judge Cahill said. Nguyen was punished with four stints of one week in jail for non-compliance during the order.

Since the February 2019 raid on Nguyen’s flat, he has remained in custody.

The DTO was cancelled in May and he was ordered to serve the remainder of the 18-month order in prison.

Judge Cahill noted Nguyen’s ongoing prison sentence, early guilty plea and his “lower-end” trafficking of much less than a commercial quantity.

His lack of compliance with court orders made him unsuitable for a corrections order. Parole offered Nguyen the best chance of drug abstinence on his release, Judge Cahill said.

“Your ability to defeat your drug addiction is the key to your rehabilitation.

“I am hopeful with a period of enforced remission and, as you move into middle-age, some self-realisation on your part, that you will reform.”

Nguyen was jailed for 18 months, including a minimum non-parole period of nine months. He had already served 80 days in pre-sentence detention.