Addict runs out of chances

After getting a suspended sentence and a community service order for previous offences, a man addicted to cocaine received terms totalling four years for new offences.

Ian Cliff Groves, 40, pleaded guilty to burglary and a non-commercial supply of cocaine.

Last week, Attorney Keith Collins said the offences stemmed from the unfortunate habit of the defendant, who has been addicted to cocaine for some time.

The supply of cocaine charge referred to sharing the substance with a co-defendant in a hotel room, Mr. Collins said. It was for their joint use rather than a sale for commercial purposes.

The burglary arose as a result of the cocaine habit and was undertaken with a view to obtaining what was necessary to feed that habit, Mr. Collins said.

Incarceration by itself would not wipe out the root cause of Groves’ problem, the attorney said. The question was whether Groves could be rehabilitated without the necessity of sending him to prison.

Because no violence was involved and because there was a chance for rehabilitation, the court could consider a non-custodial sentence, Mr. Collins suggested.

Groves was asking for a chance to rehabilitate himself outside of prison. He wanted to work and support his family. He accepted he had a problem and had pleaded guilty, which was the best mitigation.

The magistrate said she could count at least three occasions when she had given Groves the opportunity to try to turn his life around. He was a man of tremendous ability and tremendous family support. He had achieved one year sobriety in a structured environment, but he did not maintain sobriety in the community.

She said the defendant was clever, but all he had achieved with his cleverness was to find ways to avoid personal responsibility and to manipulate people. Addicts are liars who will do anything to obtain their drug of choice, she added.

He had supplied cocaine to a young girl who, although legally an adult, was still at a formative stage in her life. Then, while on bail for that, he got involved with two other people in the burglary. Now the public needed protection from him, the magistrate said.

People whose houses are burgled lose their sense of security and safety; the sanctity of their home has been violated.

A first conviction for residential burglary typically attracts a sentence of 18 months, with a second offence netting three to four years, the magistrate said.

This burglary, of a West Bay condo in August 2005, involved the theft of dive equipment, food and alcohol to a value of $1,373. But the ransacking of the premises was an aggravating feature and the magistrate imposed a term of two and a half years.

The supply of cocaine occurred while on bail for the burglary, so the 18 months imposed was made consecutive. Sentences for possession and consumption of cocaine were made concurrent.

‘There comes a time when your luck runs out and you’re called upon to pay,’ the magistrate told Groves. He could not continue to plead his addiction when he had had so many opportunities to get it under control.

The defendant appeared upset by his sentence and the magistrate referred to other material in his file.

A pre-sentence report indicated that he blamed his behaviour on other people and on the influence of cocaine. He was not concerned about violating social norms and offended with little thought of consequences to others or even to himself.

Groves started to tell the magistrate specific details of his family situation that were distressing to him.

‘Whose fault is that?’ she asked.

‘It’s my fault,’ he replied.

The magistrate told him that admission might be his first step to recovery. She said she would see what she could do about the problem that concerned him.

‘Your anger with me is misplaced,’ she said. ‘I didn’t put the pipe in your mouth.’