A magistrate said everyone was entitled to be stupid once, and Nevzat Erbasi’s decision to become embroiled in his son’s alleged drug trafficking syndicate was his one time.
The 48-year-old former Ford worker had an otherwise perfect record until he, as he put it to police, got ‘‘caught in the middle of their business’’.
Mr Erbasi was sentenced in the Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday to a 12-month community corrections order, without a conviction recorded, for trafficking an ounce of the drug ice (worth about $4000) to an older Turkish friend in the community.
‘‘What saves him is his perfect record,’’ Magistrate John O’Callaghan said.
‘‘Everyone is entitled to be stupid once, this is his occasion.’’
Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Les Oroszvary said Mr Erbasi was considered to be at the very lowest of a syndicate alleged to have controlled the availability and price of ice in north-east Victorian towns including Shepparton, Mooroopna, Kyabram and Echuca, and Albury and Corowa in NSW.
Police allege his son, 22-year-old Abdulhamit Erbasi from Shepparton, headed the syndicate.
His brother Abdulkadir Erbasi is still wanted by police over his alleged involvement.
Abdulhamit Erbasi has been charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ice and his case is still before the courts.
His father, Senior Sergeant Oroszvary said, was caught on listening devices arguing with his son about how much he was charging a co-accused for an ounce (also called a ‘bag’) of ice.
Mr Erbasi was supplying the bag to an older member of the Turkish community considered a friend, the court heard.
In a police interview after his arrest in May this year, Mr Erbasi told investigators he never used or dealt with the drugs or money. ‘‘I get caught in the middle of their business,’’ Mr Erbasi said.
‘‘I am not a trafficker, I just help my son.’’
He said he wanted to protect his sons and was worried Abdulhamit Erbasi was ‘‘getting into danger’’.
Mr Erbasi’s lawyer, Luke Slater, said his client came to Australia when he was 10 and had worked in bakeries, at Ford and fruit picking.
The father of four was most recently caring for his mother, Mr Slater said.
Mr Slater said Mr Erbasi knew the person he was giving the drugs to.
Mr O’Callaghan said often in trafficking, dealers don’t know where their drugs will end up. ‘‘It could end up with kids,’’ he said.
‘‘This is a bit more directional, we know where it was going.’’ The investigation, dubbed Operation Imparadising, was led by the Shepparton Divisional Tasking Unit that culminated in a number of arrests in May.
— The Age