At Rockingham Magistrates court, Daniel John Smith faced a prison sentence for ordering methamphetamine on the darknet, along with a host of additional charges. To the surprise of seemingly everyone in the courtroom, Smith ended up walking out of the courtroom with nothing but a suspended sentence and a handful of the usual conditions issued by the government.
On August 29, 2017, Smith “used an app” to contact a darknet market dealer. He spoke with this dealer through “encrypted texts” about buying a small amount of methamphetamine. They decided upon 3.5 grams of methamphetamine. Not long after Smith had placed the order, law enforcement made their move. On September 1, 2017, the package passed through a mail processing center. Australian authorities replaced the contents of the package with fake methamphetamine.
As if the day was like any other, the post delivered the package and had seemingly disappeared afterwards—as if they simply dropped the package off and moved on. But, as in most controlled deliveries, the authorities stayed nearby. They waited until they believed Smith had opened the package and then raided the man’s home. Police officers found the box of fake methamphetamine inside the man’s bedroom, along with diazepam (Valium) and zolpidem (Ambien). He did not have a prescription for any of the substances in his home.
The prosecutor charged Smith with attempt to possess prohibited drugs with intent to sell or supply, cannabis possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and possession of stolen property. Smith pleaded guilty to the charges. And still, unnecessarily, explained that he had needed the drugs during a tough period of his life. According to the attorney, Smith was a high-pressure water cleaner. Sometimes he went as long as a month without getting any work. He allegedly turned to substance abuse to help avoid the stress of a failing life.
Magistrate Leanne Atkins understood, but the intricacy of ordering drugs on the darknet concerned her. If Smith had gone to a “great deal of effort to obtain drugs,” the drug use could have a bigger issue. “That gives me cause for concern,” she said. “Meth is a scourge on our society – the only appropriate sentence is imprisonment but that will be suspended.”
She generously suspended a sentence of eight months for 18 months. During those 18 months, Smith must submit himself for drug tests and see substance abuse counselors. One reason for the lenient sentence came from the defense attorney’s statements reminding the court that Smith had never been charged or convicted of a crime.