Drug dealer’s downfall from life of luxury
MATT Hilton's downfall was as public as it was ironic.
Clad in designer clothes and hands cuffed, he was surrounded by detectives and uniformed police and frogmarched out the front door of the luxury waterfront Cairns CBD apartment complex he called home.
He had spent the previous two years steadily climbing the ladder of the city's social elite - being seen in the "right" places and with a social media following in the thousands - a decent amount for a place the size of Cairns.
He was the stereotypical "man-about-town" who schmoozed in nightclubs, with a stunning girlfriend, expensive Chrysler 300C car and the body beautiful.
But it was nothing but a sham. Because underneath the glitz and glam lay a criminal and a drug dealer who would have struggled to see what he was doing wrong because for the first 30 years of his life he had never seen the inside of a police station or courtroom and was just chasing the carefree "Insta-life" craved by many Millennials and chastised by older generations.
Police have previously described it as the "bauble and trinket" life.
Two years on from his January 3, 2018 arrest at the Harbour Lights Hotel he was hit by a double-figure jail term in the Cairns Supreme Court this week - a sentence which ensured his time behind bars would be more than eight years.
His 10.5-year term for trafficking cocaine and steroids has been the biggest scalp so far as part of Operation Oscar Aymara - a police sting by the Far North's Major and Organised Crime Squad focusing on a huge-scale drug ring bringing a cocktail of illicit substances from Sydney into Cairns, through Australia Post, then a courier company.
The 33-year-old nightclub security officer was seen as the key customer of syndicate boss Ryan Hill, a young electrician he met in a gym.
Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said all Hill initially knew of Hilton was as "someone who had some notoriety in the gym scene".
Hill, now 26, will learn his fate in April after pleading guilty to trafficking as part of an organised crime syndicate, a plea which could mean a 20-year jail term - a record for drug offending in the Far North.
A lawyer defending a small player in the scheme - Hill's sister-in-law Hanna Glatthor, a former bank manager sentenced to 18 months probation for money laundering on Thursday - described the publicity behind the case as "ongoing hysteria".
But his commentary failed to realise the true impact of this syndicate's undoing.
These were not old, hardened criminals operating in grungy bars, these were the people a generation of the Far North's youth aspired to be as they flicked through their mobile phones.
And the quicker the falsity and consequences of their life was revealed, the better for the community.
As details seeped out about how the syndicate and its underlings operated, it exposed the gritty underbelly.
Glatthor, 24, punished for being handed four bags of cash totalling more than $200,000 by another high level dealer, Kieren Wilson, told her lawyer how he turned up at her door with his face bloodied and bruised - likely the consequence of drug debt collecting.
On secret phone recordings taped inside Hilton's car he claimed: "I'll leave the gangster (stuff) to others. I don't want to be gangster, it's all business."
He boasted about the quality of his "diesel-smelling" cocaine and was described in court as someone who would "educate and encourage" his customers to join the drug dealing game.
He was slick.
Even the officers who arrested him described his manner as politeness tinged with arrogance - the consummate salesman.
But with his head in his hands shaking in the dock of the Cairns Supreme Court on Wednesday the shiny social media reality stopped and real life began.