A former prison officer has been jailed after being busted with cocaine. Picture: iStock
A former prison officer has been jailed after being busted with cocaine. Picture: iStock

Former prison officer jailed over drug bust

A FORMER prison guard busted with up to $50,000 of cocaine in his car during a drug run between Townsville and Cairns has been jailed for three years.

But a senior Cairns judge has ordered his identity be kept secret to protect him while behind bars because of his previous career.

The 32-year-old Cairns man and father-of-three was pulled over by police in January 2019 on the Bruce Highway near Gordonvale after picking up the coke in Townsville to bring home.

The almost-140g of drugs were found in three separate bags in a console and would have had a potential street value of between $30,000 and $50,000.

He pleaded guilty to drug possession.

The Cairns Supreme Court heard he was in the grips of a gambling addiction and mental health issues when he collected the drugs from a Townsville dealer - around 57g of which was for him.

The court heard the deal was set up by another man who gave him a fuel card to fund the trip and he collected the drugs from a dealer he had never met.

"It is such a large amount it makes it inevitable that I conclude that a substantial amount of the drug possession was for commercial purposes," Justice Jim Henry said.

Defence barrister Michael Dalton said his client had worked at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre as a corrective services officer.

The court was told he also previously worked for the Queensland Ambulance Service as an emergency medical dispatcher and his mental health issues were impacted after "three people died on the phone" while at work.

Crown prosecutor Patrick Nevard said he had been told the man's case would be assessed when entering custody and he may serve his sentence in Brisbane's Wolston Correctional Centre which "specifically caters for corrective service officers and police officers".

Justice Henry said the "gravity" of the man's mental health issues lowered his criminal culpability.

He will be eligible for parole on August 17 next year.