Illawarra man blames Xanax addiction for crimes

A Mount St Thomas man will appeal a magistrate’s decision to jail him for up to 20 months for a series of crimes he committed while high on prescription medication.

Ian Stuart Holmes, 45, was convicted and jailed for a minimum of 13 months on several offences including twice driving under the influence of drugs, driving negligently, entering enclosed lands with intent to steal, damaging property, receiving stolen goods and trying to forge prescriptions for restricted medication on four occasions.

Wollongong Local Court heard Holmes committed the crimes over a six-month period in 2013 at a time when he had a crippling addiction to prescription sedatives.

On one occasion he crashed his car into a retaining wall at the front of a Fairy Meadow house just hours after smoking synthetic cannabis, while on another he was found with his car resting against a small tree at a Coniston intersection, having apparently sailed through the crossroad without stopping.

Police at the time said Holmes was so affected by drugs he was swaying, incoherent, unable to follow simply directions and had even wet his pants.

A subsequent blood test found he had methylamphetamines and prescription sedatives in his system.

In October police searched Holmes’s house in relation to an earlier break and enter at a doctor’s surgery in Coniston, uncovering a cache of medical items that had been stolen from the surgery, including prescription pads, stationary, referral slips, an oxygen resuscitation mask and a variety of medical utensils, along with a large flat screen TV.

The court heard the day before the house raid, Holmes and a co-accused tried to fill false prescriptions at four different pharmacies in greater Wollongong, seeking Xanax, OxyContin and Endone.

In each case the pharmacists recognised the fakes and refused to hand over the drugs.

Holmes was also convicted of further charges relating to items stolen during two break and enters at Wollongong businesses during 2013.

Holmes’s lawyer, James Howell, asked the court to consider suspending his client’s prison sentence, saying he was getting professional help to address his ‘‘substantial’’ drug addiction.

‘‘He concedes he still has some way to go [in rehabilitation] but he has moved significantly in the right direction,’’ Mr Howell said.

Magistrate Geraldine Beattie acknowledged Holmes’s efforts to lead a clean life, however said a suspended sentence fell way below the required punishment for his crimes, and ordered him to spend a minimum 13 months behind bars.

Holmes immediately lodged a severity appeal, but will remain in custody pending the appeal after his application for bail was rejected.