Disguised as hero: ‘Rescuer’ led woman to ice

A MAN appeared to be a “white knight” when he came to the aid of a Mildura woman being ­verbally abused but he later roped her into his alleged drug trafficking operation, a court has heard.

Mildura Magistrates’ Court yesterday heard Nerissa Lee Johnstone, 33, later lent $2000 to the man but he became aggressive and threatening when she asked for the money back.

Police launched an operation to break up the syndicate in October and, during the investigation, established that the man supplied Johnstone with 28 grams of the drug ice.

Highway patrol officers intercepted Johnstone’s car in ­November and she was arrested for refusing to accompany police for an oral fluid test, after a preliminary test indicated she had an illicit drug in her system.

The court heard Johnstone repeatedly gave police a false address, while a search of her car turned up a small amount of ice, cannabis and drug paraphernalia.

Smoking implements, scales, 28 grams of ice and several ­mobile phones and SIM cards were also found at her home.

Johnstone yesterday pleaded guilty to drug possession and failing to accompany police for an oral fluid test.

Prosecutors said Johnstone had shown an ability to break free of the cycle of drug abuse since she and the men accused of heading the syndicate were arrested.

Defence barrister Christopher Triscott said Johnstone boasted an exemplary work history and had lived a stable life until she was introduced to ­cocaine and ice in the year leading up to her arrest.

Mr Triscott said Johnstone was being verbally abused in a pub when one of the men 

now accused of heading the ­syndicate came to her defence.

“What appeared at the time as a white knight came on the scene – it was anything but,” Mr Triscott said.

Mr Triscott said the arrests were “a relief” for Johnstone and gave her a chance to escape the situation she was in.

He asked Magistrate Andrew McKenna to fine Johnstone, noting she had made significant ­inroads in turning her life around.

Johnstone was fined $3500 without conviction and was disqualified from driving for two years.

The two men accused of heading the alleged trafficking syndicate are due to face court next month.

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