A LEADING Perth criminal lawyer says there is “little chance” that fallen footballer Ben Cousins will be jailed if convicted over his drug charge.
Mark Andrews said Cousins, 33, would most likely escape with a fine or community order and the charge of possessing a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply might be downgraded to simple possession.
It comes as an ex-staffer at the Teen Challenge rehab facility, where Cousins was receiving treatment, said it was likely he would be given a second chance to attend the program.
Cousins was charged with possession of 4.56g of methylamphetamine at Esperance airport on Tuesday.
Mr Andrews said the amount went beyond the 4g threshold, meaning the case must go to the District Court instead of being dealt with by a magistrate.
“At the end of the day, 4.5g is not a lot of drugs,” Mr Andrews said.”I have got clients who use up to 1g a day.”
Last year Mr Andrews represented WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s son, Russell, who admitted attempting to manufacture methylamphetamine and was sentenced to 16 months jail.
“Even if (Cousins) was convicted of possession with intent, I think it is very unlikely he would be sent to jail,” Mr Andrews said.
“It is more likely he would be sentenced to some form of intensive supervision order, where he would undergo rehab and regular urine testing for drugs, or a conditional suspended term of imprisonment which is the same thing coupled with a suspended jail term.
“If he breaches that sentence by not doing rehab or reoffending, he would likely be ordered to do the jail time.”
Mr Andrews said Cousins’ lawyers would almost certainly argue the drugs were for his personal use only.
“Because the amount is in excess of 2g, there is a legal presumption that he intended to sell or supply the drug,” he said.
“But it is a rebuttable presumption, and it has only got to be rebutted on the balance of probabilities, which is the lower standard.”
In a sign of hope for the fallen football star, a staff member who worked at Teen Challenge for eight years said it was likely the Esperance rehabilitation facility would let him return if he wanted to get better and comply with the rules.
The staff member, who did not want her name published, said returning to the program could change Cousins’ life.