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Byron Shire
February 22, 2024

Seven Nimbin ‘Lane Boys’ on bail to appeal their sentences

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A photo distributed by police involved in Operation Cuppa, which targeted the sale of cannabis in Nimbin. (supplied)
A photo distributed by police involved in Operation Cuppa, which targeted the sale of cannabis in Nimbin. (supplied)

The Hemp Embassy's Big Joint has been placed outside the Lismore courthouse today, where inside 30 young men are learning their fate.
The Hemp Embassy’s Big Joint has been placed outside the Lismore courthouse today, where inside 30 young men are learning their fate.

When 30 men known as the Nimbin Lane Boys who were charged by Strike Force Cuppa in 2016 walked into Lismore Local Court on Thursday with their supporters, nobody expected the sentences handed down by Sydney Magistrate Alexander Mijovich.

Appointed to the bench of the Local Court by the NSW Bar Association in 2010, Mr Mijovich, who has a legal practice at Manly, quickly made it apparent that defendants with prior drug matters, or those on good behaviour bonds, were going to jail.

What was to be determined by Mr Mijovich was how long of his two-year maximum jurisdiction each defendant would serve, and how they would serve their terms.

Ethan Rhodes and Jimmy Hill were the first defendants before the court, represented by solicitor Cameron Bell.

Mr Bell said he was seeking medical reports on both clients that will assist at sentencing and asked for their matters to be adjourned until August 31.

Medical material must be filed and served on the prosecution, Mr Mijovich said, before adjourning matters for both men until August 31.

Both Mr Rhodes and Mr Hill remain on conditional bail until their next court appearance.

But when James Brown was told being on a good behaviour bond wasn’t a sufficient deterrent, and he was asked by Mr Mijovich to step into the dock, an audible gasp flooded the court and the mood forever changed.

‘He’s going to jail,’ one woman said from the public gallery.

The 32-year-old father of three was disqualified from driving for six months and fined $400 for drug driving.

Mr Brown was sentenced to 12 months jail with a non-parole period of eight months on the charge of taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

He was also sentenced to three months jail on the charge of having goods in custody, which related to $1,310 cash he was carrying when arrested.

On her way back to Queensland, Mr Brown’s solicitor Ms Ward lodged his appeal papers at Tweed Heads Local Court, which were sent to Lismore and he was granted bail pending his appeal.

When barrister John Weller requested an adjournment to seek a medical report for his client Huon Campbell, this was not opposed by prosecutor Brett Gradisnik.

Mr Campbell’s conditional bail was continued and Mr Mijovich ordered medical material to be filed and served by August 30, and adjourned his matter until August 31.

Solicitor Tracey Randall then put in a strong, spirited representation for Zachary Fuller, stating his late plea of guilty to the charge of taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug wasn’t entirely his fault.

‘When the matters were charged there were a significant lack of particulars in relation to the defendants,’ Ms Randall said.

She told the court there was ‘effectively a generic description for each defendant’ in the police charges, then the prosecution refused to produce the CCTV the police relied on as evidence.

The more than three months of CCTV footage was subpoenaed, Ms Randall said, and following a legal argument in court it was conceded by the prosecution they had to produce the footage.

‘What was produced were 15 minute interval files,’ Ms Randall said.

‘It was very difficult to marry up the particulars in relation to the involvement of the individuals.’

Ms Randall said she understood the Richmond Local Area Commander devoted additional police resources to the matters.

‘Then we were provided with particulars regarding the involvement of each of the individuals,’ Ms Randall said.

She said the defendants played a big part in negotiating with the prosecution to obtain the particulars applicable to each defendant so a plea could be entered.

The nature of the Nimbin township, was something Mr Mijovich should consider in sentencing Ms Randall said.

‘Nimbin has a long history of cannabis use within the community in a normalised way,’ she said.

‘Mr Fuller was a young man that was raised in the community and the effect that has had on him is that he has seen a normalisation of cannabis use in the community.’

‘I can’t put any weight on the submission that it was normal for young people growing up in Nimbin,’ Mr Mijovich said.

Despite the submission from Ms Randall that Mr Fuller, who worked and volunteered in the community, would benefit from a suspended sentence, Mr Mijovich disagreed.

‘Case law says a full time custodial sentence applies,’ Mr Mijovich said.

‘You were actively involved in the supply of drugs in that area.

The court heard Mr Fuller had been captured on CCTV for 10 days.

He was sentenced to nine months jail with a non-parole period of six months and is eligible for release on January 26, 2018.

For breaching a good behaviour bond he was jailed for three months.

A female supporter burst into tears when Mr Fullers sentence was handed down.

For four days of a five day period, Dion Wales was captured on CCTV at Nimbin’s Rainbow Lane, the court heard.

His barrister John Weller submitted his client, who had no prior record, should get a suspended sentence.

‘He was juggling balls financially in terms of three children and lapsed into criminality,’ Mr Weller said.

Mr Mijovich convicted Mr Wales and ordered him to served a five month suspended sentence.

Solicitor Naomi Carter applied for Pavo Robert Topping‘s matter to be adjourned until August 31 to obtain medical reports.

The adjournment was granted by Mr Mijovich.

Having no prior drug matters and not being on a good behaviour bond went in Ruben Mack‘s favour, Mr Mijovich said.

His barrister John Weller conceded he had been captured on CCTV for seven days over two separate months at Rainbow Lane, and said he had been assessed by probation and parole of being at a low risk of reoffending.

‘At 26 years-of-age you decide to start with one of the highest level of offences under NSW law,’ Mr Mijovich said.

Mr Mack was ordered to serve an eight months suspended jail sentence.

The court heard Jesse Levy was captured on CCTV for only two days during the police operation.

He was the sole carer for his four children aged between six and 12, Mr Weller said.

Mr Mijovich ordered him to serve a five month suspended sentence on the charge of taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

Hayden Peter Allen appeared before Mr Mijovich having been caught on CCTV over eight days between February 3 April 14 but with no prior record.

‘Im suspending this sentence purely on your record, no other reason,’ Mr Mijovich said.

He was ordered to serve an eight month suspended sentence.

Evan Ogle was also captured on CCTV over eight days and had no prior matters on his record.

Mr Mijovich ordered him to serve an eight month suspended sentence, which Mr Ogle will complete when he returns to work in Western Australia.

Barrister John Weller applied for an adjournment to obtain medical reports to assist in sentencing his client Jake Stanton.

His matters were adjourned until August 14 and he remains on conditional bail.

‘I don’t care what you grew up with, its illegal,’ Mr Mijovich said when sentencing Kalen Petrie to an eight month suspended sentence.

Tobi Cox, 30, received a term of nine months jail, with a non-parole period of six months, eligible for release on January 26, 2018.

Chilo Pike is due to undergo intensive detoxification today his solicitor Ms Hunter told the court. His matters were adjourned until August 31 so he can undergo the treatment.

Beau Mollloy-Grabousky received a term of nine months jail, with a non-parole period of six months, eligible for release on January 26, 2018.

Tom World pleaded guilty to taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug, his first offence, and was convicted and ordered to serve a 10 month suspended sentence.

Joseph Walkenshaw Hunter‘s matters of taking part in the supply and habitually consorting with convicted offenders were adjourned until August 14.

Ben James Yasserie was jailed for 10 months, with a non parole period of three months, eligible for release on October 26, 2017.

Ryan James Hawken was sentenced to 12 months with a non parole period of eight months, eligible for release on 27 March, 2018.

Tamita Peheku was ordered to serve a three month suspended sentence for taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

Mahalie Bayles had his matters adjourned until August 31 to obtain medical reports.

During the afternoon, Mr Mijovich divided the remaining matters, eliminating ones Magistrate David Heilpern had disqualified himself from hearing.

These matters were heard before Mr Heilpern in court four.

Christopher Walsh, 29, was sentenced to nine months with a non-parole period of four months, eligible for release on 20 November, 2017.

Daniel Walsh, 33, was placed on a good behaviour bond for two years.

Jesse Ward-Howard was ordered to serve a seven month suspended sentence on four counts of taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

Jackson Jordan, 22, was placed on a nine month suspended sentence for taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

Harley Ogle pleaded guilty to taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug and was placed on a nine month suspended sentence.

Arpad Foraita was placed on a nine month suspended sentence for taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug.

The seven men who were given jail terms, Christopher Walsh, James Brown, Tobi Cox, Beau Grabovsky, Ryan Hawken, Ben Yasserie and Zachary Fuller lodged appeals against their sentences and were granted bail late yesterday.

The date and location of their appeals was not set late yesterday.


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  1. So they’re being sent to jail for selling weed? Cannabis that people wont to use and go there to buy because it’s still illegal for some strange and illogical reason. Cannabis that hasn’t ever killed a single person from overdose?

    And the young guy that sold cocaine and other hard drugs and was labelled a ‘drug kingpin’ didn’t go to jail?

    Wonderful (in)justice system and laws we have here in Australia. It’s getting worse every year.

    What a shame. Cannabis should be legalised and sold in the same way as alcohol and tobacco is. Alcohol and tobacco have caused millions of deaths and cannabis has caused 0 from it’s direct consumption.

    Pedophiles and violent criminals get let out on probation but sell some vegetable matter and you go to jail..


  2. I note that a Sydney magistrate presided. This is significant. A local Lismore magistrate would perhaps have been more lenient.
    Most of those charged are involved solely in cannabis sales. Ice and other ‘hard drugs’ are not tolerated in the village.
    Dealers know that cannabis is a harmless and indeed a beneficial herb, as do the international customers who flock to The Bin’, many believing it is legal.

  3. im going to take the ball up and continue their work in their honour i will defy and i will supply seek rambo

  4. At what point did these men think it was okay to sell an illegal drug and not suffer the consequences? I understand its only cannabis and should be legal, but to date its not…do the crime, suffer the time!

  5. One could almost surmise that jail sentences are given to natural medicine suppliers for tax-avoidance reasons. Said tax being the bribe “legitimate” medical suppliers pay to operate to the real criminals running the show. As all legitimate business operators are equally forced to do… and wage-slaves. And our taxes pay for this??

  6. In Nsw to day raped his foster sister repeatadly hlpeed dispose of body lied to police and gets 15 mth out in 5 well I know who I would rather have on the steet ?????,

  7. They should all appea if its not too latel although the sentences are severe it depends on priors. i am sure most would be successful and end up with heavy fines and/or heavy legal fees…i am thinkung crowdfunding may be the way to go.

  8. all this time and money for a PLANT !!!!! a WEED ….all the stress ….all the tears …..but also all the love. I have seen plenty of LOVE today , and the support ,and all the hugs and kisses in the court house today …..WHAT A COMMUNITY ! I’m proud of being part of a community that challenges ….what need to be challenged in order to make life better , to make the world a better place , to change stupid laws, to allow people to be healed by a plant , ….etc…

    • Yeah, you’re not growing it to sell to bikers and hard drug users and dealers to support a lavish lifestyle on welfare for 30+ years . the lane boys are the victims here.

  9. I read in the nimbin good times paper that a black ford came in 2 X a week to sell hard drugs in Town
    From Brisbane . I thought how can that be ? The police only have to read the paper to find the dealers.
    Seems if most street people know that when this vehicle would come to town and the addicts would flock to it that it would be very obvious to see. That’s when the addicts would wait for you to leave your car and they would go and try the doors and try to sell you weed to feed their habit. It created a very uneasy vibe in the town. Then the lane boys started to clean out the White powder sellers and the vibe in town became so much more equitable, happy, vibrant, creative. What a relief. Nimbin became a so much more pleasant place. And my clients who used CBD and other medical marijuana products were able to obtain their medicine more easily. Getting to fill out a medical history and a consultation and diagnosis with a medical professional. One client with prostrate cancer was even given free a bit of cbd oil and some CBD suppositories to use to shrink his swollen prostrate, which worked. What a relief for suffering cancer patients to get such helpful service. Nimbin should be a centre of the medicinal herb nationwide rather than a shameful police state of repression and fear. Hopefully all these sentences will be overturned on appeal.
    The good citizens of Australia need to come together as we did at Bentley , over this police state.
    Our politicians and newspapers and civic organisations need to speak out about this atrocity and mor e marches in the streets and civil disobedience and refusing to pay taxes and sit down demonstrations in the streets. We must not allow the government to suppress our inalienable right to freely choose to use a natural medicine we can grow ourselves. FREE THE WEED !!! Love Noah

  10. It’s hard to believe that people still go to jail for something that is legal in many parts of the world. If it was legal, these lane boys could have been paying a lot of taxes and the country rds out at Nimbin could be fixed for starters!!

  11. The fools creating, enforcing and prosecuting these stupid laws are on the wrong side of history. Police resources should be put into protecting the community, not persecuting people who choose a recreational drug which is far less harmful than alcohol.

  12. This is an irresponsible waste of our tax-payer monies and a waste of time.
    It has become quite apparent that all laws against cannabis are illegal laws; and these laws must be rejected using all means available.

  13. I can hardly believe that after all these years of same same same Nimbin world renowned for marijuana and now this. It should be legal…a soft drug with no recorded deaths ever…..the magistrate/judge Mr Mijovich is an outright w****r probaly had a family member die from a heroin overdose and is unable to discriminate between drugs. I dont understand other than to say the govt makes a lot of money fining people for drug use especially if they have a job and can pay. Maybe this is why they are being jailed no money to be gained for the coffers. Cheers Grandma

  14. The stupidity of ‘the law’ is indeed an ‘ass’ and it shows. I guess we must now defend the weed. 99% of medical
    practitioners agree to its legal use. Rise up – collect signatures – confront quietly.


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