February 07, 2018 17:40:56

The ringleader of a drug syndicate which supplied cocaine to several Queensland football stars, including Karmichael Hunt in 2015, has been sentenced to nine years’ jail after pleading guilty to trafficking dangerous drugs.

John Touma, a former NRL Sydney Roosters player, pleaded guilty to four offences including supplying, possessing and trafficking dangerous drugs.

Touma was charged in 2015 after a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation involving phone taps.

Several past and present NRL players were implicated in the CCC investigation, but charges were dismissed against four of them.

Former Gold Coast Titans player David Taylor was fined $1,000 after pleading guilty in November 2016 to possessing cocaine.

Queensland Reds player Karmichael Hunt pleaded guilty to his involvement in March 2015 and was fined $2,500 for cocaine possession.

Prosecutor Mark Whitbread told the court Touma dealt with large amounts of cocaine and supplied drugs to 48 people in south-east Queensland, including 11 regular customers.

“Touma was identified as the head of the network,” he said.

“The business was well established and dealing with large quantities.

“Mr Touma’s operation involved him having a front … a wine-selling type of business. It was clearly a front.”

The court heard Touma’s drug trafficking was carried out over a seven-month period from May to December 2014.

Touma’s barrister said the cocaine business began after his mother was murdered and he had a falling out with family.

Ex-NRL player Matt Seers also pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Brisbane to trafficking cocaine as part of the syndicate.

He received four years’ imprisonment, to be suspended after serving one year.

The prosecution said Seers was involved for four and a half months, and made drug deliveries on behalf of Touma.

“He made six trips to Sydney on behalf of Mr Touma,” Mr Whitbread said.

Seer’s barrister Patrick Wilson told the court his client was introduced to drugs during his playing days and that is when his addiction to cocaine began.

Mr Wilson said Seers was “embarrassed and ashamed” for the impact the publicity has had on his family.

“[Seers was] unequipped to handle life post-retirement from professional sports,” he said.

Two other associates of Touma, Adam Surplice and Peter Kassiotes, have also pleaded guilty to trafficking cocaine for their involvement in delivering drugs.













First posted

February 07, 2018 13:59:19

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