Appeal judge rejects magistrate's sentence for pot head

AN appeal court has overturned an Ipswich magistrate's tough sentence on a convicted drug user with a lengthy criminal history.

Judge Sarah Bradley said a magistrate's decision to sentence Christopher Lee Roll  to two months in jail, suspended for three years, on two charges was "manifestly excessive" and did not take into account the accused man's guilty plea.

Instead, in a judgment handed down in Ipswich District Court on Tuesday, she overturned the sentence and fined Roll $500 for unlawfully producing a dangerous drug and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Roll had pleaded guilty to both charges when he appeared in the magistrates court on July 25.

The charges arose from a police search of the Ipswich 32-year-old's Thorn St home on July 2, where they found one marijuana plant, an electric coffee grinder and digital scales.

"The appellant told police he had previously used the coffee grinder to chop up cannabis before he smoked it and had used the scales to weigh cannabis after he bought it to make sure he wasn't getting ripped off," the appeal judgment stated.

Roll has an extensive criminal history including offences of dishonesty, breaching a domestic violence order, public nuisance, assault occasioning bodily harm and other drugs charges.

In 2004, the supreme court sentenced Roll to a 12-month correction order, served in the community, for producing a dangerous drug.

When fronting the Ipswich court in July, Roll's defence counsel asked the magistrate to consider a fine or a community-based order.

However the magistrate said she must impose a stronger penalty to send a strong message of deterrence.

"With your history you should well and truly have changed your behaviour by now so I am going to impose a penalty that is going to hang around for a while and if you breach it then there will be a serious consequence," the magistrate said at the time.

"I am satisfied that is the only appropriate option."

However, Judge Bradley disagreed with the magistrate's decision, saying there was an "over emphasis" on Roll's criminal history.

She said the magistrate seemed to overlook Roll's police co-operation, the minor nature of the two offences and the lengthy period since he had been convicted of a serious drug offence.


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