A FLOOD victim who turned to drug dealing to cope with the destruction of his home town and business has been sentenced to two and half years jail.
Laidley father Andrew James Balke pleaded guilty in Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday to 20 drug and weapons offences.
The 37-year-old admitted to using and selling the drug ice as well as being in possession of a shotgun, rifles, ammunition and explosives - some of which had been reported as stolen several months before.
At the peak of his offending in July last year, he was entrenched in what the court heard was a "potentially lethal combination" of using amphetamines with loaded guns in reach.
Balke was previously given a second chance and fined in the Toowoomba court after being busted for drugs following the 2013 flooding of the Lockyer Valley town and subsequent collapse of his business.
A third chance was then offered to Balke in the Toowoomba District Court last year where he was placed on probation for drug supply.
Just weeks after being released on probation, Balke was discovered with drugs in his home and given a notice to appear.
The court heard on Monday that even with a pending court date and probation order hanging over his head, Balke's offending only got worse.
A second raid of his home uncovered the weapons cache and commercial quantities of methamphetamine and ecstasy tablets along with a customer list and more than $4000 in cash.
On that occasion Balke was remanded in custody until his sentence.
The court heard Balke had a long history of drug abuse which had graduated to methamphetamine use before his teenage years were out.
Defence barrister Scott Lynch told the court his client had the tendency to return to drugs when "significant stressors" entered his life and continued association with drug-using friends in the small town had played a factor.
He said that unlike some users, Balke previously held down a job and had a supportive family.
He insisted Balke had experienced an "awakening" in jail where he had realised how much he was missing in the life of his young daughter who was 10 days away from celebrating her birthday.
But Justice John Byrne said Balke clearly had a drug problem and statistics showed that "when there is competition between the drugs and the child, the drugs always win."
"You need professional assistance - the drugs will not make your life better - they will only make it worse," Justice Byrne said.
"Illicit substances cannot alleviate the stressors in your life, they can only add to the burden."
Balke waved goodbye to his family as he was led out of court.
He will be released on parole on May 6.
- ARM NEWSDESK
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