Prison won't help drug users, says mum of Launceston criminal

A Deloraine mother is preparing for her son to be “locked away” after he was unable to access drug rehabilitation.

Nicholas Edward John Turner, 22, was told by a Launceston magistrate this week the Court Mandated Diversion Program was full in the North and he could not even apply.

Mr Turner will instead be sentenced for his crimes next week, which include driving offences, drug possession and stealing.

His mum, Leanne Turner, said prison would only make things worse for the father-of-two.

“He really wanted to get his life on the straight and narrow, his daughters are his motivation,” she said.

“He has had some trouble in his life, got involved with the wrong crowd … but just putting him into jail is not going to fix the problem.

“His problems will still be there when he gets out so it is just putting a Band-Aid over it.”

Ms Turner admitted her son had a history of abusing drugs, which she believed was behind his offending.

“The drug program would have helped him with his long term goals, he would have access to counsellors,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Northern Tasmanian drug diversion program 'chock-a-block'

“But instead they are going to lock him up and he will just be back at square one and I really worry about his mental health in there.

“Let’s not just put Band-Aids over these problems, we need to get to the root of the problem and stop kids from turning to drugs.”

Mr Turner is the second person in two weeks to be told the program is above capacity. Late last month, Magistrate Sharon Cure told a Launceston defendant the program was “chock-a-block”, with more than 30 people currently taking advantage of it.

The service was previously capped at 20 places in the North, but earlier this year the state government announced an additional 40 program places statewide as part of a $1.3 million budget allocation.

Corrections Minister Elise Archer said those places would be available soon.

“We expect the increase in the Court Mandated Diversion program from 80 to 120 places, including from 20 to 35 places in the state’s north, will take place in the coming weeks,” she said. 

“This is good news for everyone in the community as it recognises the vital role that rehabilitation and treatment programs play in ensuring community safety.”