Drug-dealing grandparents avoid jail

Bendigo courts
Bendigo courts

Two drug-dealing great-grandparents caught with more than one kilogram of cannabis have avoided jail because of their age and previously clean criminal record, a court has heard.

Denise and Alex Laczko were given community corrections orders in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Friday after pleading guilty to trafficking and possessing a drug of dependence.

The husband and wife duo, aged 74 and 62, would purchase two to three pounds of cannabis each fortnight and had been selling the drug to a small group of customers since for about nine months for $250 per ounce.

The pair was arrested in November last year after police found cannabis plants, a set of scales, and more than $27,000 in cash at their California Gully home.

Officers found 600 grams of cannabis in a cooler box, as well as numerous deal bags, foils and cigarettes containing the illicit drug in a rear bungalow.

Several days after their arrest, police also seized a car which had been used for completing drug deals.

Defence lawyer Serge Petrovich told the court his clients came before the court with no prior convictions, and were embarrassed and ashamed by their behaviour.

He said Mr Laczko began smoking cannabis to help deal with back pain sustained during a workplace injury in about 2003-4.

When the couple ran into financial difficulties, their drug dealer suggested they buy more cannabis and sell it to friends and colleagues to cover their costs, the court heard.

Mr Petrovich said what started as a modest endeavour soon escalated.

The court also heard the pair sold the drugs to earn enough money to renovate their dilapidated bathroom and sell the house.

In addition to the trafficking and possession charges, Mr Laczko pleaded guilty to cultivating and using a drug of dependence and dealing in suspected proceeds of crime.

Mrs Laczko also pleaded guilty to two counts of dealing in suspected proceeds of crime.

Magistrate David Faram said the offending was serious, significant and clearly motivated out of greed.

"This couple are absolutely the architects of their own circumstances," Mr Faram said.

As part of the two-year community corrections orders, he ordered the pair each complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

In sentencing, Mr Faram made it clear they had come very close to going to jail.

"I accept that your offending was naive and at best stupid, at worst it was criminal, and is criminal. There was a real commerciality about your offending," he said.

"There are thousands of people in our community who do it tough, there are thousands of people who wear the consequences of back injury and suffer pain, and live on pensions...most do not resort to criminal endeavours to supplement their income.

"Were you much younger than you both are today you would be going to jail."

Mr Faram also approved police applications to have the seized cash and car forfeited.