ACT News


Heroin sentence leaves family reeling

Janie Ebert remembers her brother as a beautiful, healthy young man who would give you his last dollar.

Wayne Gouge was 33 and seemed to have everything going for him.

He was popular with friends, had a loving family and was working with his sister and her company.

But in June last year he was found dead after consuming a fatal dose of heroin bought for him by a friend.

The death shocked Mr Gouge's siblings, his mother Veronica and stepfather Steve O'Callaghan, a foundation Canberra Raiders player in the 1980s who now works for the Australian Federal Police.

Ms Ebert said her brother had struggled with an alcohol issue but had sought help and was sober at the time of his death. He also did not take drugs.


''There is no way in the world he would have touched that,'' she said. ''He hated drugs.''

Earlier this week 32-year-old Zoe Zenta Oros was sentenced to five months' jail for purchasing the heroin which was to prove fatal to Ms Ebert's brother.

Oros had been released from an earlier jail sentence and was on parole when she bought $160 worth of heroin for herself and Mr Gouge in June last year. The pair took the drugs, but Mr Gouge died soon afterwards.

Last month Oros was found guilty of one charge of supplying a drug of dependence to Mr Gouge.

She is not accused of causing his death and does not face charges over the death.

Magistrate Peter Dingwall said the prosecution case had been arguable and charges probably could not have been laid if Oros had not cooperated with police in the wake of Mr Gouge's death.

Oros' parole was revoked in the wake of the drug offences last year and the five months' jail will have no effect on the time she spends behind bars. She will be released when her existing prison term expires in March 2013.

Ms Ebert said the sentence had devastated her family, who were still grieving for their son and brother. ''My mother … said she felt his life meant absolutely nothing, just [five] months.''

Ms Ebert and her family are now pushing for a coronial inquest to be held into her brother's death. She also wants to campaign for changes to the territory's criminal laws and believes legislation should be tougher on the supply of drugs resulting in a death.

''I will spend the rest of my life fighting for people who are put in this situation,'' Ms Ebert said.

But Ms Ebert and her family will also remember a young man who was so caring he made his sister late for her own wedding two years ago because he thought he saw an overturned turtle on the Barton Highway and headed back to rescue it. ''It turned out to be a plastic bag and we all went, 'Wayne!''' Ms Ebert said with a laugh. ''But that's just the kind of person he was.''