Minister’s Drug Plea – The Glebe & Inner Western Weekly October 28th, 1998

An Inner West clergyman has fired a salvo at “inadequate” court and police systems in the wake of the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Marrickville boy, and heroin user, in Earlwood last month.

Reverend David Smith, of Duiwich Hill’s Holy Trinity Church has called for an extension of the $5 million Drug Court trial in Parramatta next year.

Mr Smith said he knows around 11 teenage heroin users who spend time at Trinity’s drop-in and gym in Dulwich Hill, opposite the church.

An opponent of methadone clinics, Mr Smith wants reforms to the court system where a drug user would face a judge promptly.

He said a police system where the same officer may be responsible for following up inquiries and making arrests in relation to reported crime was inadequate and ineffective”.

‘As part of the court system we need to get guys committed to drug rehab clinics and get them out of the habit,” he said.

No one has put them in a position to stop. You’ve got to get hold of them quickly, facing a judge within a week of crime instead of two months down the track where the court grants bail and nothing happens,” he said.

Mr Smith said there were up to 11 teenage heroin users on a cap or a cap and a half of heroin per day at his drop-in centre.

“That’s generally between $50 and $100 per day,” he said. “They pool their money, do break and enters together as a group.

“I reported a bag snatching from the centre in May. I knew who it was I saw him do it. But no one’s been charged”. Daniel Bowtell is 17 and was expelled from school. He used heroin “about seven times” last year and he took part in “break and enters, rolls, selling car spare parts” and other crimes.

“I needed the extra cash,” he said. “I was hanging around with about 10 guys who only ever thought about getting money, they’d wake up and the first thing they’d think about was heroin.

“The youngest would have been 14 and the oldest about 18,” he said. “It changes your life.”

Daniel attends Trinity’s kickboxing classes every day and attributes the discipline to giving up heroin.

You need something to get you fit and keep your mind off it,” he said.

Mr Smith talked of a vice captain at an Inner West high school who had been using heroin for the past three years.

“He’s started staging break-ins into his own house,” he said.


Inner Western Weekly
Original Article
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Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four
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