Woman escapes jail over drug deals

A judge has suspended the jail term of an Albion Park Rail woman caught up in a large-scale drug-supply ring, citing exceptional circumstances.

Lawyers for the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, detailed a significant history of trauma and the breakdown of a long-term relationship as contributing factors to her descent into drug taking and, ultimately, her foray into the world of dealing ecstasy in 2013.

A sitting of the District Court in Sutherland heard the now 23-year-old woman had grown up in a loving and supportive family and had excelled at school. However, she was sexually assaulted at the age of 15, leading her to experience depression and anxiety.

She became involved with a man shortly after the assault and the pair remained together for about six years, but the relationship was "rocky" and fraught with domestic violence. The pair had a child together.

The court heard the woman had briefly smoked cannabis in her late teens. However, she started smoking again and using harder drugs more frequently after her relationship with her daughter's father broke down in 2012.

During 2013, he took their child away from her on three occasions for up to two months at a time, including during the period in which she committed the dealing offences.

Judge Paul Conlon accepted suggestions from the woman's lawyer that her traumatic history, mental-health issues and the breakdown of her relationship and separation from her child had made her emotionally vulnerable, and she had been largely influenced by one of the supply ring's main contributors.

The court heard the woman was considered a "low-level supplier" in the drug chain, playing a minor role overall, and came to the attention of police during a larger drug investigation.

However, Judge Conlon noted that since her arrest, the woman had gone about a large transformation, cleaning up her life and seeking extensive and ongoing treatment and counselling for her problems.

She told a psychologist she was extremely remorseful for her actions: "It was the biggest mistake of my life . . . I lost time with my family . . . I regret it so much."

In handing the woman a two-year suspended jail sentence, Judge Conlon said a "powerful subjective case" had been presented on her behalf and he noted she was "well and truly on the path to rehabilitation".