An Australian jiujitsu champion who took amphetamines to keep going while working 90-hour weeks at his struggling Melbourne gym has been jailed for drug trafficking.
Robert Knight, 38, a cousin of Essendon footballer Nathan Lovett-Murray, was jailed today with his co-accused Terry Atkinson, 55, over the drug trafficking operation run from his Epping gym in 2009.
The Victorian County Court heard Knight, a former jiujitsu champion, began selling drugs to pay for his growing drug habit and as a way to solve his financial difficulties.
The Victorian Youth Support and Recreation Association had proposed he open the gym with the aim of training young Aboriginal martial arts champions on the basis that they would pay half the rent and provide staff, the court heard.
The staff were never provided and funding was withdrawn after six months, leaving Knight working up to 90 hours a week at the struggling business and taking amphetamines to keep himself going, the court heard.
Atkinson, a member of Knight’s indigenous tribe who was involved with the gym because of his work with young Aboriginal men, aided Knight in the operation, though he received no personal gain for his involvement.
Judge Liz Gaynor said the men were truly remorseful and had good prospects of rehabilitation.
The court heard Knight had taken steps to improve his life, moving to the country and remaining drug-free while embarking on a music career.
His song was played regularly on Triple J and he was well known and regarded for his Aboriginal community work.
In a character reference, Lovett-Murray, the founder of indigenous hip-hop label Payback Records, said his cousin had mentored and coached musicians and inspired them with his amazing voice.
Judge Gaynor said Atkinson, a member of the Stolen Generation who had been heavily involved in Aboriginal community work all his life, was a proud family man who was ashamed of his crimes.
During an intercept by police, Atkinson was heard telling an undercover operative who was attempting to buy drugs about the importance of getting off them.
Knight was jailed for six-and-a-half years, with a minimum of three-and-a-half years, after pleading guilty to trafficking a commercial quantity of amphetamines, trafficking MDMA and possessing testosterone.
Atkinson, of Ballarat, was found guilty by a jury of one charge of trafficking methylamphetamines and two charges of trafficking MDMA and was jailed for three-and-a-half years with a non-parole period of one year.