A Wellington man involved in a major 'ice' syndicate operating out of the town, says he "don't want that criminal life no more", pledging not to reoffend after the suspected murder-suicide of his parents.
Bradley Peter James Thompson was sentenced in the Dubbo District Court on Friday, for his involvement in a drug syndicate operating out of Wellington, dismantled by Strike Force Pinnacle - a 14 months undercover police operation - in 2020.
Earlier this year the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal group, drug supply and possessing a shortened firearm.
According to an agreed set of facts described as "scant" by Judge Nanette Williams, Thompson helped the alleged kingpin of the syndicate and older brother, Kyle Thompson, deliver drugs and collect cash payments between June 2019 and April 2020.
In October 2019 police said secret phone recording revealed the syndicate's alleged leader directed Thompson to supply a "full white one" - code for 3.5 grams of ice - to several women.
Despite being in jail at Wellington between October and December 2019, Thompson was heard discussing the payment of drug money into bank accounts and police said he helped the syndicate's leader supply buprenorphine.
In January 2020 police raided the Swift Street home in Wellington which Thompson shared with his partner Brianna Meizer.
In the laundry of the home a shortened 0.22 calibre rifle was discovered by police, wrapped in several plastic bags and duct tape, inside a Louis Vuitton handbag which was placed in a pink bin.
After the raid police listened in on a phone conversation Thompson had with an associate of the syndicate.
"Send someone to go the little pink bin in the laundry and see if the thing is still in there bra," Thompson told the associate.
"Go there and check if it is in the little pink bin outside the laundry bit bra."
That life I had, using drugs, doing whatever I could to shut those emotions out, that sort of criminal life I don't want that no more.Bradley Thompson
Thompson, who has been remanded in custody, pleaded guilty to participation in a criminal group, drug supply and shortened firearm possession charges
Giving evidence in the District Court via audio-visual link from Junee Correctional, Thompson described his upbringing, and a series of incidents and family tragedies which led to his drug use and criminal behaviour.
"I saw a lot of smashing walls, drinking and drugs and I just wasn't stable at one place for a period of time," he told the court.
Thompson described the death of his brother Christopher in 2014, which saw him turn to using heavier drugs to "shut out the emotions".
"My brother lived in Dubbo at the time and played football for Wellington and worked for MAAS Industries, and he travelled down to our parents place, went to training and stayed the night," he said.
"He must have got in an argument with his wife and had to travel to back to Dubbo. He was under the influence of alcohol and drugs and must have fallen asleep behind the wheel and had an accident.
As Thompson's drug use of cannabis and ice continued, the court heard Thompson had developed what Judge Williams said was a "lengthy criminal history", with previous convictions for assault, driving offences, police pursuits, drug supply, intimidation and breaching an apprehended violence order.
However, Thompson began to sob as he described a day in November 2020, while in custody his partner rang to tell him his mum and dad had been in an accident.
"I was just doing my usual thing, I was sitting down playing cards with the boys ... and then I got called across to the office and they said I've got to ring home," he said.
"I rang my partner, and we got into it and she was a bit emotional. I asked what was wrong and she said that your mum and dad has been in an accident.
"She said to me that 'your mum was burnt, she's got 98 per cent burns on her body and your dad's gone and [committed suicide]."
He said at first he didn't believe what had happened to his parents.
"I rang my brother and he said 'dad burnt mum' - that's what the police were telling him. They found bottles of petrol in his car," Thompson said.
"I don't know why it happened. I can't get myself around why it happened," he said.
"I don't know the truth because of where I'm at."
He said the last time he saw his mother before she passed away at Sydney's Royal North Shore, was via a video call, and despite attempts to get released on bail to attend her funeral, he was denied and had to watch it over the phone.
"I did everything I could," he said.
"I only had one option and one chance to say my goodbye's to my parents.
"I just felt angry, I felt like I let them down in a way. I wasn't there for them and I just didn't have answers for myself.
He said he "went into a shell again" and it started impacting his mental health.
"It makes me feel sad and empty. Depressed," he said.
However Thompson pledged the incident led him to turn his back on a life of crime.
"I sort of made a promise to my parents 'this is it'," he told the court.
"That life I had, using drugs, doing whatever I could to shut those emotions out, that sort of criminal life I don't want that no more.
"This is my time to actually pull my head in. I've lost too much now, I know what it feels like not to have a parent, I sort of put myself in my kids shoes and how they'd be feeling all these times I've been away from them."
Thompson also admitted it was the prison's Chaplain who has helped him cope through this pain and grief.
"I sort of had a breakdown in the middle of the pod, and they called [the Chaplain] to take me for a walk and try and talk about it," he said.
"He's kept me in the right frame of mind to push forward, and push through this stage, and told me to focus on my children now."
Judge Williams recognised Thompson's life had been dominated by a "cycle of tragic losses, poor mental health, substance use and crime", which reached a point of no return when his parents died "apparently by way of a murder-suicide".
"He was exposed to domestic and family violence, to drug use from an early age and related drug dependence and dysfunction," she said.
"The impact of social deprivation does not diminish over time."
She agreed that despite his "entrenched" history of drug use, there were positive signs of rehabilitation, particularly that he had worked his way up in prison to become the head baker.
"His very positive work ethic is very impressive to this court", she said.
"If the offenders accepts the agencies that will be able to assist him in his rehabilitation ... and denounces contact with any of his former anti-social cohorts and ensures that he maintains a drug free life, I am of the view that there can be very positive prospects for rehabilitation."
Thompson was convicted and sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, backdated to September 2020.
He will be eligible for release in April 2022.