Racing trainer's downfall on meth

A DISGRACED Tasmanian harness racing trainer has been fined $10,000 and handed a suspended prison sentence for cooking meth in Victoria. 

Craig Andrew Toulmin, 42, was arrested as part of a major drug bust following a 15-month investigation, which the Australian Federal Police said had smashed a national organised crime syndicate. 

Toulmin, who  played only a minor role in the operation,  was arrested after his Carrick property was raided in October 2011 by the AFP.

Toulmin, who lost his harness training licence due to his pacer returning a positive swab test in 2009, was sentenced in Victoria's County Court earlier this month. 

He had pleaded guilty to trafficking in a commercial  quantity of methylamphetamine in Ballarat in late 2010. 

The court heard that he began associating with Rodney Dale Weightman, 47, also a disqualified harness racing trainer, in Ballarat, where Toulmin's ex-wife lived. 

Three times he attended Weightman's home, encouraging and helping him to make speed and ice. 

Judge Richard Maidment said: ``You also engaged with him in testing or tasting the product . . . in  the cooking process . . .  and you   received some of the product for sale and supply to others as well as use by yourself.''

The court heard that Toulmin helped to  produce  up to 16.5 ounces of meth, valued between $162,000 and $185,000.

He did not stand to benefit by anything close to that amount. 

Judge Maidment said Toulmin was only a bit player compared with Weightman,  who was sentenced to 10 years' jail last year. 

Toulmin became an ice addict after Weightman introduced him to it and at the time was ``feeling extremely low'' due to being suspended.

Judge Maidment described Toulmin as a ``battler'' who left school after year 6 and ``achieved a measure of success'' in the harness racing industry. 

Judge Maidment said the conviction could make it difficult to regain his  training licence. 

He  said Toulmin had made efforts to turn his life around and was unlikely to reoffend in the same way. 

Judge Maidment ordered   a three-year prison term,  wholly suspended, and gave him six months to pay the fine. 

The judge  said the penalty was in line with others involved in the operation but significantly less than the sentence given to Weightman, who was attached to a ``broader criminal enterprise''.

 During Weightman's sentencing, Judge Maidment said  such was his rise in drug trafficking that he became an associate of Mohammed Oueida,  who was known as the  ``the new (Tony) Mokbel''.

Weightman was involved in the sale of methamphetamines with an estimated street value of $2.6 million between May 2010 and April 2011.

pbillings@examiner.com.au

Craig Toulmin

Craig Toulmin

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