A young Illawarra business entrepreneur and one-time Kiama Council hopeful has been convicted of drug possession and police harassment following two separate run-ins with the law in as many months.
Michael Ballardin, 24, pleaded guilty to five charges stemming from the two criminal acts, the first of which involved belligerent behaviour at a drunken party at his Minnamurra home in February and the second when he was caught with drugs at Darling Harbour in April.
Documents tendered to Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday said Ballardin, the former co-owner of successful Kiama ice creamery Licked Gelateria, was in the midst of hosting a large party at his parents’ Charles Avenue property on February 25 when paramedics attended the house to treat an unconscious male who had suffered a suspected drug overdose.
The paramedics were forced to call for urgent police back-up when fights broke out among the 100-strong crowd, however when officers arrived on the scene, a drunk Ballardin became belligerent towards them and repeatedly told them to “it’s my f—king house, it’s my f—king party, f—k off”.
The court heard Ballardin continued to act aggressively towards police and at one stage slapped a sergeant on the arm as he got close to the officer’s face and once again told him to “f—k off”.
Police eventually arrested Ballardin, who struggled while being handcuffed.
Officers were surrounded by the crowd and pushed back and forth as they led Ballardin to the waiting paddy wagon.
They were eventually able to load him into the vehicle and drive away safely while other officers remained at the scene to disperse the party-goers.
Ballardin was released on conditional bail to front court on police harassment and hinder charges, however two months he was caught in possession of ecstasy tablets and “magic mushrooms” while out in Darling Harbour for the night.
Arresting police described seeing Ballardin turn and walk in the opposite direction when he spotted a drug detection dog outside the Slip Inn, prompting police to stop him.
They said the pupils of Ballardin’s eyes were extremely large and they heard him tell a friend “I’ve only taken one” before they located the contraband in his pocket.
He denied any intention to sell the drugs, saying they were for personal use.
In court on Tuesday, defence lawyer Matt Ward said Ballardin was a hard-working businessman who had “put a lot into the Kiama community” and had even run for a position on council in 2016.
Magistrate Imad Abdul-Karim fined Ballardin $1,000 and placed on an 18-month good behviour bond.