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Dark web dealer who sold $17 million in drugs from Callala beach house 'desensitised' by video games, court told

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 26/02/2021 By Ainslie Drewitt-Smith
a person standing in front of a car: Cody Ward claims he did not sell drugs for profit but as a way of being accepted after being an outcast at school. (Supplied: Facebook) © Provided by ABC NEWS Cody Ward claims he did not sell drugs for profit but as a way of being accepted after being an outcast at school. (Supplied: Facebook)

A New South Wales judge has been urged not to deliver a "crushing" sentence to a man who sold $17 million worth of drugs on the dark web, as he had become "desensitised" by computer games.

Cody Ward pleaded guilty last year to importing commercial quantities of border-controlled drugs and shipping them through the post disguised as lollies.

He was arrested at his Callala Beach home on the NSW south coast in February 2019, along with his co-accused, sisters Shanese and Patricia Koullias, then aged 24 and 20.

During his sentencing hearing in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Friday, Cody Ward's barrister described the 26-year-old as a "model prisoner" whose crimes were motivated by "seeking acceptance" after being "plagued" by social anxiety throughout his years at school.

"This did not involve bikie gangs or weapons or corruption," defence barrister Kieran Ginges said.

"This is one man who played Grand Theft Auto while being isolated in the school yard.

"The world of a young man who had no real concept of what he was doing … he was desensitised … he didn't really appreciate the affects that these drugs could have on people."

Money not the motive

Mr Ginges told Judge Robyn Tupman his client was not a "drug lord" and urged her to consider his age and "lack of criminality".

"[The operation] wasn't that sophisticated," Mr Ginges said.

"He bought some fake IDs and PO Box … [he used] tools of trade which, for him, were very simplistic.

"He wasn't doing it to make money, it was a by-product.

The court was told at the time Mr Ward was arrested he owned a second-hand Mercedes Benz worth $70,000, a Maserati that cost him $7,000 and a Mitsubishi Evo worth $15,000.

His barrister urged Judge Tupman to consider his good prospects of rehabilitation and claimed his client had been sober during his time in prison.

"He's off the drugs he was taking while he was offending and he has really continued on that path of redemption," Mr Ginges said.

"He's attending church, meditating, he's doing things whereby he's gaining an insight into his greater frailties.

"I would urge your honour give him the greatest appropriate leniency in all of the circumstances."

Maintained his rating online

The Crown prosecutor asked Judge Tupman not to discount the ongoing nature of Mr Ward's drug operation.

"In terms of the motivation for offending, perhaps his social isolation was an entry point but profit was the primary motivation for continuing the offending," the Crown said.

"He had the wherewithal to continue the sophisticated operation.

"And [he had] the clarity of thought to maintain his rating and reputation as an online seller of drugs to remain a preferred source."

Mr Ward did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.

He is due to be sentenced in Downing Centre District Court on the 23rd of April.

His co-accused Shanese Koullias was previously sentenced earlier in February to eight years in prison with a four-year non parole period.

Her younger sister Patricia Koullias received a three-year prison sentence in December with a non parole period of 22 months.

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