Pro golfer's cocaine, party lifestyle leads to jail time
HE COULD have been facing a shining golf career.
But a setback on the international circuit put talented golfer Jacob Tonkin on the wrong path.
He was visiting nightclubs like never before and developed a cocaine habit that has led him to years behind bars.
The Tweed Heads South man, 22, appeared close to tears at times when he faced Lismore District Court for sentencing on Friday.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to taking part in supply of a commercial quantity of the psychostimulant drug MDA.
He was charged alongside Max Hoysted, 21, over the supply of 500g of the drug.
The court was told Tonkin became a pro golfer at the age of 18, but a trip to South-East Asia had him reap poorer results than expected.
He responded to this with the sudden lifestyle change that had him become acquainted with Hoysted.
Hoysted arranged to supply the MDA - fatefully, to an undercover police officer - for $18,000 in Chinderah in 2017.
But Hoysted had car troubles and invited Tonkin to join him as a driver.
During the exchange, police approached their vehicle and seized the drugs and the cash.
Tonkin was also found with one gram of cocaine.
The court was told his only payment for helping Hoysted was a small amount of that drug.
His barrister, Simon Lewis, told the court his client had been on "very strict bail" for the 18 months since his arrest.
Mr Lewis said Tonkin had maintained his employment at a bakery company and had "a lot of family support".
He said Tonkin had stopped using cocaine although he had not attended formal rehab.
The Crown prosecutor said while Tonkin had "good prospects of rehabilitation", nothing had been implemented to reduce his risk of drug use.
Judge Wells acknowledged Tonkin had no prior criminal record.
The court was told Tonkin claimed he'd "impulsively agreed to drive his associate around ... to fund his cocaine dependency".
Judge Wells took into account the quantity of the drug, its "quite low" purity and the motivation involved.
She said it was important to note Tonkin was involved "in the dissemination of drugs that do a great deal of harm to the community".
"It is well known that drug offences are particularly rife in this part of NSW," she said.
"It must be accepted he has not used illicit drugs since he was arrested in relation to these matters.
"The court, though, can't lose sight of the objective seriousness of these matters despite his young age."
Tonkin was convicted and sentenced to a total term of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
He will be eligible for parole from August 23, 2021.
Judge Wells said she took into account his guilty plea and this was a discount on the six years she "had in mind".
Hoysted remains in custody and will be sentenced over four serious drug supply charges before the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney on June 25.