Deaths after fake marijuana sex shop racket
A SEX shop owner and his sidekick knew the fake weed they sold was dangerous - but kept dealing anyway.
Two people died from synthetic marijuana David Andre Jules Piccinato and Ross McGlone trafficked.
Piccinato, 45, owned Love Heart stores in Rockhampton, Mackay, Bundaberg and Toowoomba.
McGlone was his number two, and operations manager.
On Thursday, Brisbane District Court heard drugs were packaged as "tea" and sold for a few months from late 2014.
The stinky product reeked of chemicals. Prosecutor David Nardone said an employee concocting the mix wore goggles, gloves and masks to avoid headaches.
From an unknown Gold Coast supplier, drugs were packaged in Toowoomba, reserves stored in Rockhampton, and the product sold at stores under the counter.
Judge Brian Devereaux said "the standout seller was Mackay" where about $180,000 of fake weed was sold - more than all other shops combined.
Mr Nardone said there was no suggestion McGlone, 38, or Piccinato knew people died from the synthetic weed.
But he said both knew it was harmful.
Mr Nardone said Piccinato at one time blamed "competitors' products" after negative customer feedback.
Judge Devereaux said worried staff were told they'd "lose their jobs unless they sold it."
One customer was "unable to walk or talk for several hours" after consuming the fake weed.
The judge said 32 people presented at Mackay Hospital after smoking the product.
McGlone's counsel Angus Edwards said McGlone did not benefit from drug trafficking profits.
Mr Edwards said McGlone had been volunteering at a rehab centre.
"That is his way of trying to give back to the community…he takes responsibility for his offending."
Mr Edwards said two drug users died on 13 January 2015, and the trafficking ended two days later.
"It's not the case that they continued in the face of those deaths."
Piccinato's barrister Tony Kimmins said Piccinato's marriage was over and business in dire straits.
"He accepts that he has to be punished."
Piccinato was jailed for six years, and McGlone for five.
Piccinato will be eligible for parole on September 1, 2019.
McGlone's jail term will be suspended from May 30 next year.