The charges were laid under the former Newman
government’s contentious Criminal Organisation Disruption Amendment Act.
However in a fresh indictment handed to the Brisbane
Supreme Court yesterday, Spence agreed to plead guilty to the lesser
charge of selling drugs. He also admitted to handling money reasonably
suspected of being obtained through the proceeds of crime.
Crown prosecutor Glen Cash said Spence was also caught
on a camera hidden in the Millennium Locksmiths office counting cash on
eight occasions. It is believed the money was obtained through drug
sales, which the court heard Spence would have eventually realised,
allegedly orchestrated by owners of the business, Bruno and Nuno Da
“It’s alleged (the Da Silvas) were engaged in quite a
substantial amount of trafficking methamphetamine,” Mr Cash said.
The prosecution insisted it was not alleging Spence
was lining his own pockets with the cash. But it said the one-time
Broncos player did profit from the proceeds of crime through his wages.
Spence at Broncos training in 2010.
Michael Spence outside court.
On another occasion, the court heard Spence was
directly involved in the sale of methamphetamine to a client in October
2013. However it was unknown how much was sold, or if Spence was present
at the time.
Defence barrister Jeff Hunter, instructed by Lawler
Magill, argued his client had already served more jail time than a
person would likely receive for committing similar crimes.
The qualified plumber was forced to quit playing
professional football in 2010 after he was diagnosed with degenerative
arthritis in his hips, Mr Hunter said. However there had been a medical
development which could see his condition ease.
In sentencing, Justice David Boddice said it was
“unfortunate in the extreme” the defendant had served such a long period
of time in custody for the crimes he was pleading guilty to. However, he
stressed that was not a criticism directed towards any party.
Justice Boddice dismissed the defence’s suggestion of
imposing a sentence between nine and 12 months, instead handing down two
concurrent 18-month prison terms wholly suspended.
Outside court the defendant’s father Greg Spence said
he was happy his son was a free man.