News

Housemate cooks up an in-home drugs lab

LEARNING how to make meth to sustain his addiction has nearly cost a man time behind bars.

When Dallas Jade Steven Benko had someone move into his Bellbird Park house, he used the chance to learn how to cook meth.

The pair set up a crude clandestine laboratory in the house where the other man taught Benko the processes of making the drug from medicine and chemicals.

In March last year police raided the Jones Rd house, where they found chemicals, the lab, drug utensils and ammunition.

Benko, 31, pleaded guilty at the Ipswich District Court yesterday to producing and possessing dangerous drugs, possessing ammunition without a licence, and a number of other drugs charges.

Crown prosecutor Dominique Orr said the set-up police found was "very unsophisticated".

They found a range of precursor chemicals, including medicine containing pseudoephedrine used to make meth.

Benko admitted to police he'd been using the laboratory to make the drug, having been taught by the housemate, who had by this stage moved out.

He told the police he'd been cooking since Christmas 2012, until a few days before the police raid.

The drug lab was seized and analysed with his fingerprints found on them.

Forensic testing found trace elements of methylamphetamine on most of the items found.

The court heard, from the amount of pseudoephedrine found, there was a theoretical maximum yield of 1.05g of meth.

Police also found a small number of 0.22 calibre bullets, but no guns.

Ms Orr said there was no evidence Benko was operating a commercial drug operation, and was only charged with making meth for his own consumption.

The court heard Benko was making the drugs himself instead of paying more to buy them from a dealer.

A report from a psychologist said Benko was suffering from anxiety and began his meth habit to self-medicate.

The court heard Benko had a limited criminal history of drug and dishonesty charges.

Judge Greg Koppenol said producing meth placed Benko as a major offender.

"You start playing around with drugs like meth, you're playing in the big leagues," he said.

Mr Koppenol said it was only the fact there was no allegation of commerciality that was keeping him out of prison.

"You only get so many chances in life. You should look on this as your chance," he said.

Mr Koppenol sentenced Benko to nine months prison with an immediate release on parole. The drug lab and utensils were forfeited to the Crown for destruction.

Topics:  ipswich district court possessing dangerous drugs



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