Semi-naked man jailed over drug lab fire
A man who ran semi-naked from police after fire broke out in a clandestine drug lab inside a luxury beachside unit where he was staying was trying to repay a $17,000 drug debt racked up over six weeks.
Ross Jeffrey Linke, 34, was booked into the Henley Beach holiday rental when two days into his stay, on May 19, 2019, he was woken by neighbours who saw smoke coming from the unit.
Linke appeared in the District Court on Thursday to be sentenced for multiple drug offences over the drug lab including charges of manufacturing and trafficking a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug and a charge of arson. He had previously pleaded guilty to those offences and a charge of possessing prescription drugs he was hoarding in his jail cell.
In sentencing, Chief Judge Michael Evans said neighbours who noticed the smoke found Linke face down and unresponsive on a sofa inside the unit, wearing no pants.
"When police arrived you went back into the unit saying you needed to retrieve something. However, you ran through the unit onto the Esplanade," he said.
"In the bathroom of the unit the police discovered a clandestine drug laboratory. Part of that set-up was a small gas burner which caused a fire."
Inside the lab police found 6.49kg of Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB which is also known as fantasy, and 4.6kg of water which was found to be predominantly GHB. They also found 1225g of methylamphetamine in two containers and plastic press seal bags containing 16.64g of methylamphetamine, as well as various drug-making equipment.
The court heard Linke, a father of three, had a "chaotic" upbringing which included the use of cannabis from as young as eight, which progressed to the use of other drugs including heroin at age 20.
Chief Judge Evans said Linke was made redundant and then relapsed into drug use in 2019 about six weeks before the offences and accrued a $17,000 drug debt.
"You faced significant financial pressure to service that debt," he said.
"It was suggested to you … that you could repay the debt by assisting with the manufacture of drugs. You accepted."
He said the unit's owner had suffered from a loss of bookings and initial difficulties with insurers, who paid out $140,000 in compensation. He declined to order Linke reimburse the insurer.
Chief Judge Evans told Linke his offending was very serious.
"You used a stranger's premises in a residential setting disregarding the interests of the owner of the unit, the safety of those nearby and other members of the community," he said.
"As you know too well, drugs such as those you were manufacturing cause serious harm to individuals and to families.
"The manufacturing and trafficking of them disrupts the fabric of our society."
At the time, he said methylamphetamine was selling for $115,000 per kilogram, while GHB was selling for up to $2000 per litre.
Linke was jailed for 12 years with a non-parole period of nine years, seven months and one week.
Originally published as Semi-naked man jailed over drug lab fire