Floodwater puts end to 11 years on-the-run for drug-runner
SITTING with his dog atop his sinking ute in western Queensland flood waters last year awaiting SES rescue, 55-year-old Patrick O'Sullivan harboured an 11-year-old secret that was about to catch up with him.
On an ill-fated drug run from the Northern Territory to Queensland for a payment of just $1,000 in April last year, O'Sullivan drove straight into floodwaters in Windorah, about 275km southwest of Longreach.
He was rescued by SES and his car completely submerged.
Little to anyone's knowledge, O'Sullivan had adopted the identity of his brother Michael after not showing up for an occasionally bodily harm trial for choking a taxi driver in Morayfield in 2006, and he had been on the run ever since.
He had a warrant for his arrest issued in 2007.
After a guilty plea to all counts, the Rockhampton Supreme Court heard the man's criminality did not stop during this time at large, racking up numerous charges under his brother's name including for possession and driving under the influence.
The court heard while waiting for flood waters to subside so he could retrieve his cargo, O'Sullivan enlisted the help of a local station owner to help remove his car from the crossing.
The defendant had gone to Longreach to purchase another car while the station owner made attempts to pull the car to dry ground.
On 11 April, the ute was removed and two police officers arrived shortly after to inspect the vehicle due to suspicions around O'Sullivan's behaviour.
They found a large bag of methamphetamine in the air filter of O'Sullivan ute, and a large bag of cannabis behind the seat.
Just before midnight that night police pulled over O'Sullivan in Ilfracombe who produced his brother's ID.
The court heard that after his fingerprints were taken by police, O'Sullivan finally revealed he was indeed Patrick, not his brother Michael as he had been claiming.
Police found a total of 37.058g of meth and 75g of cannabis O'Sullivan's salvaged ute.
When deliberating his sentence, Justice Graeme Crow cited O'Sullivan's "very lengthy" criminal history and a victim impact statement from the Morayfield taxi driver who stated his life had been ruined by the violent 2006 assault, which Justice Crow described as "particularly vicious."
Justice Crow described a 11-page criminal history across three states (WA, NSW, QLD) littered with drug, violence and sexual assault offences.
"That amount (of ice) brought into any community would ruin many, many lives and for that you must be punished," he said.
"I take into account the victim impact statement (from the taxi driver), a man trying to make an honest living being viciously assaulted, choked, and the terrible effects that has had upon him.
"The features in your favour have been pointed out by your council - there aren't many."
O'Sullivan was sentenced on a list of charges, including aggravated drug possession and occasionally bodily harm, to four years and nine months imprisonment with a parole eligibility date of November 11 this year.
O'Sullivan was also disqualified from driving for six months.