JAILED: Footy star’s ice-fuelled crime spiral
Gripped by drug abuse, a court has heard how an "exceptional" footy player spiralled into a life of crime - joining the ranks of a major drug ring in order to feed his ice addiction.
The former Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels player's crimes came to an end with his arrest on the floor of a Subway in 2019.
Aaron Wilfred Peter Taylor, 34, was sentenced to jail in Coffs Harbour District Court on Monday for taking part in the drug ring, supplying a large commercial quantity of meth in the Grafton and Coffs Harbour regions.
Taylor had pleaded guilty to participating in the network which was busted by strike force detectives following months of covert investigations in 2019.
Over a three-month period, the criminal group was recorded supplying a total of 1.54kg of meth in the area - worth almost $150,000.
Taylor was sentenced alongside one of his co-offenders Michael Rafferty, a 'down line' street dealer, however court proceedings continue for a number of other co-accused.
It was heard that Strike Force Kiowa detectives began surveilling Taylor and two co-accused suppliers from September 2019, where they observed them making several drug runs to Sydney to "meet local demand" whenever supply had exhausted.
Taylor was found liable for transporting a total of 1.148kg of meth from September to the time of his arrest in November.
However, Taylor was not getting paid financially for his role - but was given ice to fuel his addiction.
On the final drug run on November 14, where Taylor and a co-accused intended to purchase $18,900 worth of meth, he was arrested.
Police had tracked a Lexus to a Subway in Heatherbrae where detectives made the arrest. Taylor has remained in custody since.
The court heard how Taylor had met his co-accused six months prior through his drug use, and at the time of his arrest he was living with them full time.
The former Essential Energy worker was unemployed due to his addiction, which had begun in 2014 following the breakdown of his relationship. Court documents revealed the drug abuse was a coping mechanism, and had "spiralled out of control."
In character references tendered to the court, friends, family and former colleagues expressed surprise at hearing of Taylor's charges.
Taylor's former Grafton Ghosts coach said he had an "exceptional quality as a player", and the crimes were out of character.
His criminal history was limited to a previous conviction for prohibited drug and weapon possession in 2019.
At Coffs Harbour District Court on Monday, Judge Jonathan Priestley sentenced him to three years and nine months jail with a non-parole period of 22 months.
Due to time already served, Taylor will be eligible for parole in September 2021.
Don't forget: Activate your free Daily Telegraph subscription