There was no way out for Faisel Batarseh when detectives unearthed a smorgasbord of drugs inside his Guildford rental property just 20 kilometres from Sydney last year.
He knew he'd been caught red-handed and he knew his impending jail sentence would be measured in years, not months.
On Wednesday, a court heard Batarseh had a loving, supportive family on the outside who wanted nothing more than for him to come home as soon as possible.
Batarseh entered guilty pleas to drug supply charges at the earliest possible opportunity in court, earning him a discount on his sentence. He's also been a model inmate in the Silverwater jail complex by all accounts, avoiding the possibility of having extra time added to his prison term.
In fact, when it came to appealing for a reduced sentence, Batarseh ticked all the boxes - except one.
Detectives were spoilt for choice when they raided Batarseh's home on November 17 last year after linking him with a drug syndicate operating out of a Port Kembla mechanic shop.
There were narcotics, drug paraphernalia and ill-gotten cash practically everywhere they turned. Police seized 3kgs of methylamphetamine, 1kg of cocaine, 570g of ecstasy and 868g of heroin, along with $320,000 in cash.
In court this week, Batarseh's lawyers attempted to downplay the 34-year-old's role in the syndicate, labelling him a simple "warehouseman" - a matter Judge Paul Conlon flatly rejected.
What is does reveal, however, is that Batarseh was in a position to name names.
The former chef told a psychologist he developed depression, turned to recreational cocaine use and began gambling after a failed business venture in 2017.
His drug use subsequently escalated and at one stage he owed money to the wrong kind of people.
His brother came to the rescue on that occasion and paid off his debt, with Batarseh remaining clean and sober for a year until he relapsed again when his father was diagnosed with cancer.
He told the psychologist he was drinking and gambling to excess, and using between two and three grams of cocaine most nights of the week, which he eventually couldn't afford.
It's unclear how Batarseh became involved with the group operating out of Port Kembla, but by the time police took notice of him, he was firmly imbedded in the syndicate.
"Once you owe them that much money they own you," Batarseh told the psychologist.
Batarseh has spent the past year behind bars awaiting his sentence.
No doubt several detectives have tried to convince him to turn against the rest of the syndicate, whether to implicate the 'Teflon-coated' players higher up the food chain that are yet to be charged, or give evidence against his co-offenders. Batarseh has refused every offer, despite knowing he was all but certain to get a heavily reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation.
He told the psychologist that to his knowledge, his debt to the syndicate has been wiped as payment for his ongoing silence.
The court heard Batarseh has ambitions to open his own cafe when he eventually leaves prison. The earliest date that will occur is November 16, 2026, at the expiry of the minimum six-year prison term imposed on him by Judge Conlon on Wednesday.
A set of agreed facts read out in Wollongong District Court said police set up covert surveillance in mid-August last year after receiving a tip-off about drug activity at a home in Primbee.
What they discovered led them to extend their surveillance to Port Kembla mechanic shop AC Automotive. Detectives spent almost two weeks establishing the alleged players in the syndicate before carrying out a raid on the workshop on September 30 in which they honed in on a toolbox on the shop floor.
Inside the locked drawer police discovered methamphetamine and dimethyl sulfone - a common cutting agent used to dilute methamphetamine.
Officers also seized video from motion-activated cameras on the shop floor and spent hours reviewing the footage in painstaking detail.
The footage revealed the two mechanics working at the site attended the workshop daily to carry out the shop's legitimate business, however a third man was also a regular fixture at the site day and night, and was seen repeatedly opening and shutting the drawer where the drugs were found.
Meanwhile, Batarseh was seen to enter and exit the business on several occasions, and at one stage was seen pulling wads of cash out of a Coles plastic bag.
On the day of his arrest, Batarseh met with one of the alleged kingpins in Penrith. Police discovered $65,000 in cash inside a plastic bag when they pulled the vehicle over.
Batarseh told detectives he lived in Fairfield East and had no connection with any property in Guildford.
However, a subsequent raid of the Guildford property unearthed rental papers in Batarseh's name, as well as $320,000 in cash and a smorgasbord of drugs including 3kgs of meth, 1kg of cocaine, 570g of ecstasy and 868g of heroin.
Police said the total value of the drugs was well in excess of $1 million.
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