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Olympic hopeful avoids drug trafficking conviction

A potential Olympic skier has avoided conviction on low-end drug trafficking charges, a win that gives him hope to make the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Stewart David Mercer, 22, faced the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday for sentencing over the trafficking of cannabis and the possession of stolen property.

A conviction on the charges would have threatened his bid to join the Australian slope skiing team for the Winter Olympics in 2014, and would put his ability to travel to host nation Russia and overseas training destinations in jeopardy.

Mercer sold cannabis to pay for medication, the court heard.

Magistrate Bernadette Boss told Mercer that he enjoyed a middle-class upbringing and a life of privilege and stability that was “paradise” compared to the court’s usual clientele.

Dr Boss said the offences, committed in mid-December, were “very selfish", and that by dealing cannabis he was peddling a “Russian roulette of mental illness”.

The defence said Mercer was of good character, and was highly unlikely to appear before the courts again. It argued the consequences of Mercer’s actions would stay with him for a “very, very long time”.

The prosecution agreed Mercer was of good character, and was unlikely to reoffend.

Dr Boss recorded no conviction on two charges, but issued a good behaviour order for 12 months.

But the court heard the non-conviction order may still impact on his involvement in the Olympics, particularly if Mercer wishes to train in the United States.

Dr Boss said she had little evidence Mercer was good enough to make the Olympic team but accepted evidence he had a “good chance” of making the team.

She took into account his sporting endeavours had the potential to benefit Australian society.

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