A former Olympic medalist has been jailed for playing a ‘central role’ in supplying commercial quantities of ice cream and heroin to New South Wales after a ‘public descent’ from his career as an elite swimmer.
The 47-year-old was transported to Sydney Downing Center District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of supplying a prohibited drug, trafficking in the proceeds of crime and participating in a criminal group contributing to criminal activities.
The former swimming star was convicted of supplying large quantities of ice cream and heroin after she was caught driving a drug shipment from Sydney to the town of Yass in New South Wales at the start of 2021.
Police had previously obtained a surveillance warrant and lawfully placed listening devices and trackers in a white Toyota Camry with Western Australian registration plates, the court heard.
Miller drove the car from his home in Rozelle to the nearby suburb of Balmain in early January and drove away while someone in high-visibility work gear placed a bag inside the car.
The court was told that the bag contained eight candles containing almost 4 kg of methamphetamine.
When Miller returned to the Camry, he moved the bag to a secret compartment with a “significantly complex” locking mechanism to deter accidental opening, the court heard.
He made the 280 mile trip with a $2.2 million methamphetamine haul and his co-defendant Wayne Allan Johnson, 49, on January 12.
The court was told that when they arrived in Yass they met another co-defendant, Justin Szabolics, 47, who had traveled with the couple to a rural road where he cleared them of the ice stash.
Szabolics and another man were then forced to throw the bag of candles containing drugs into the bush after being chased by police. The methamphetamine in the bag was seven times the threshold for a commercial amount of illegal drugs, the court heard.
Judge Penny Hock said Miller showed the two co-defendants the location of the hidden compartment and how to open it to access the drugs.
She said the former swimming star “played a pivotal role” in providing the drugs “of significant value”.
Miller was arrested at his home in Rozelle, Sydney’s mid-west on February 16 last year while wearing only his blue jeans in a bare living room. During a subsequent search of his home, the court heard that police had seized nearly 800g of heroin and more than $72,000 in cash.
The court was told he had “sole custody” of the heroine.
The Rozelle resident has suffered a spectacular fall from grace since swimming for Australia at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and winning silver and bronze medals.
He also won two gold medals for his butterfly performances at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
His lawyer, Arjun Chhabra, previously told the court that Miller suffered a ‘public struggle’ after his early life as an elite athlete left him ‘ill-equipped to enter a life beyond his athletic career. “.
Ms Hock told the court that Miller moved to live full-time at the Institute of Sport in Canberra after he was discovered aged 15.
“That’s when his mental health issues started,” she said.
She noted that people who knew him when he was an elite athlete testified that he felt the pressure to perform keenly and was unhappy with second place at the Olympics.
“He was devastated that he didn’t win gold,” the judge read from a character reference given to the court.
“That was the level of expectation he placed on himself.”
The court heard Miller used cocaine and ecstasy “intermittently” at first, but his drug use spiked after he quit swimming in 2004.
Celebrity pressures meant her mental health and drug use issues were well publicized and exacerbated the problems, Ms Hock said.
“His ex-wife’s suicide in 2014 put a strain on him,” she said.
The court was previously told that Miller blamed himself for the death of his ex-wife Charlotte Dawson, who was a popular television personality and model.
The ex-Olympian “made a number of bad business decisions” which worsened when Covid shut down his trucking business.
“All of the offenders were motivated by financial gain and they acted in complete disregard of the harm these substances can cause,” Ms Hock said.
“They have to recognize that they are at a critical point in their offense.”
Miller, who was attacked in prison while sleeping, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison for supplying heroin and ice cream in commercial quantities.
The sentence began when he was arrested in February last year, so he will be eligible for parole on February 15, 2024.
Szabolics was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison and will be released on April 13, 2023.
Judge Hock sentenced Johnston to an Intensive Restraint Order of one year and 10 months.