Five years for cocaine inside tennis ball

Magistrate: Tariff high because cocaine use supports criminal trade, gang environment, gun culture

Lindsay Orlando Dixon, 40, was sentenced last week to five years imprisonment after magistrate Valdis Foldats found him guilty of possessing cocaine with intent to supply. 

Dixon was charged on the night of 15 July, 2009, after police spoke to him in a nightclub parking lot. Initially, the officer searching him saw a piece of white paper under Dixon’s foot. It was an envelope containing 13 packets of what turned out to be cocaine. A search of Lindsay’s car revealed a tennis ball in a plastic container on the rear seat; when the officer squeezed the ball, he saw a slit in the seam; this led to opening the ball and finding 36 packets similar to those in the envelope. 

Total weight of the illegal substance was 14.93 grams. 

A search of his home revealed a spoon and plastic container with traces of cocaine on them. Dixon said he did not use drugs and he tested negative for drugs.  

Since he did not use, the only rational conclusion was that he possessed the drug with intent to supply it, the magistrate said. 

During his trial, Dixon suggested that the envelope with cocaine was in the parking lot before he ever got out of his car. He said he had passengers in the vehicle that night who were known users of cocaine and they must have left the drug in his car after he had dropped them off at the bar. 

Dixon gave evidence and said he had come back to the bar to pick up his friends – two females and one male. They were approaching his car when he was confronted by police. He said he did not tell police about the friends because two of them worked at law firms and one was a bartender and he didn’t want them involved because of their jobs. 

Asked the names of his friends, he was able to provide only first names, although he said he knew them six or seven months and had been in a relationship with one of the females. 

He said he did not know how the tennis ball got into the passenger compartment of his vehicle; he said his child played with tennis balls sometimes and had them in the vehicle sometimes, but usually in the trunk. 

He denied putting cocaine inside any tennis ball. Asked if he was suggesting that the police put the balls in his car, Dixon said that when they searched maybe they moved things around. He also claimed that he had $50 to $150 under the floor mat of his vehicle, but he never heard anything about that.  

As to the items in his room with traces of cocaine in them, he said they were junk from apartments that had been rented. 

The officer who found the cocaine was recalled; he acknowledged there were other tennis balls, but said he had only mentioned one because the drug was found in only one. He denied moving any balls from the trunk to the passenger compartment. 

Before announcing his verdict, the magistrate summarised his findings. He said he found the police officers credible and straightforward, with any discrepancies attributed to the passage of time. In contrast, he said, Dixon was evasive and appeared to fashion his narrative as he testified. There was a clear attempt to shift blame to the three “friends”. 

The magistrate said that in Dixon’s mind he was a hapless victim of coincidences, but was willing to sacrifice himself to shield those friends. He was transporting friends, one of whom mysteriously left 36 packages of cocaine in his car in a tennis ball. By coincidence, his child played with tennis balls that were sometimes in his vehicle. 

Dixon’s bad luck continued as he exited the vehicle and an envelope with 13 packets of cocaine either falls from his vehicle or was previously dropped at the exact location where he had the misfortune to be stopped by police. 

Dixon then suffered the further misfortune of sharing living space with others who apparently used drugs and left traces on utensils that were then found in his room. 

“This narrative defies reason. It is patently false and I reject it. The presumption of innocence and the burden of proof [on the crown] do not mean that the court should be gullible,” he said. 

His verdict was on 16 May, but defence attorney John Furniss requested a social inquiry report that resulted in postponement of sentence until 4 July.  

Along with five years, for the possession with intent conviction, the magistrate imposed concurrent sentences of six months for 
the utensils. 

Valdis-Foldats

Magistrate Foldats
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