The Toolbox Went In

APOLOGIES to the great Theodore Dalrymple whose famous essay about the amorality of one criminal – and the abandonment of personal responsibility by modern Western societies generally – will be familiar to most readers. Yesterday in the Brisbane Supreme Court, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata was sentenced by Justice Peter Davis to two life sentences (with no possibility of parole until 2046) for the horrific toolbox in a creek murders of a man and a woman, Iuliana Triscaru and Cory Breton. Both victims were drug dealers. In the evil, paranoid world they’d chosen to live in – or perhaps just move in and out of to score product and make some cash – the duo had aroused suspicion as possible informants. Tahiata – with several accomplices yet to be tried – decided to kill them. Triscaru and Breton were first lured to a Kingston unit where they were badly beaten by the group, then locked in a large metal toolbox and placed on the back of Tahiata’s ute. They were driven to a creek where the box was thrown in the water by Tahiata and another man, Trent Thrupp. Ironically, Tahiata turned snitch and gave up all the others to police. He covered his ears to muffle the screams, he said, but Thrupp convinced him if they didn’t submerge the pair, they themselves would end up in a box.

What’s clear in the testimony heard so far is that all of the accused believe that they – as individuals – didn’t do the actual killing. The box just went in. The case makes me angry and puts me in two minds about illegal drugs. We know as a matter of fact that the trade can never be beaten. Ever. “We’re talkin’ heroin with the president; well it’s a problem, sir, but it can’t be bent.” That was a Jagger-Richards lyric in “Respectable” (1978) mocking Richard Nixon for once declaring Keith’s beloved smack “public enemy number one.” Forty years later, drugs still can’t be bent. But today I also feel a renewed visceral loathing for the revolting animals involved and want them arrested and locked up for long terms. Between these mixed reactions, do we have to ask ourselves again whether the prohibitionist ‘war on drugs’ should be fought by the state endlessly when it produces generation after generation of hidden monsters preying on the weak and killing so many of them?

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46 Responses to The Toolbox Went In

  1. BorisG

    CL I don’t see any contradiction. Drug lords especially those high up the chain are horrible human beings and deserve to be punished to full extent of current draconian laws. Yet these laws don’t really serve the purpose they were intended for. A different drugs policy is needed, perhaps the one following Portuguese example (google it). Decriminalizing drugs will remove the need for this criminal profession.

    As usual the reality is far more complicated so nothing is simple on the road to saner policy but definitely a different course is needed.

  2. Scott Osmond

    CL, this isn’t abnormal for crims. People I’ve known and read who have worked with crims say the same thing. I wasn’t responsible, if she wasn’t wearing a short skirt, if he/she didn’t make me angry, if they had just given me the stuff and my favourite it’s societies fault. Crims of all flavours can’t or won’t except that they are moral agents and are responsible for their actions. Yeh, the toolbox went in but you pushed it in you maggot now do the time.

  3. We know as a matter of fact that the trade can never be beaten. Ever.

    Philippine president Duturte is beating it quite resoundingly. But then again, his methods are “uncivilized” to a more mature nation such as ours.

  4. BorisG

    Philippine president Duturte is beating it quite resoundingly. But then again, his methods are “uncivilized” to a more mature nation such as ours.

    Not sure how much he has actually achieved on this road. But yes, it is possible to beat it with outmost repression. There was very little drug trade under Stalin. Do we really want to follow his example.

    Indonesia is a good example. Death penalty for drugs – yet they are widely and almost openly available.

  5. Porter

    Death penalty for dealers – yes it is a capital crime so yes bring it on. And bring back jail terms for users.

    Last week I saw a man just go up to a stranger in the street and bash the s*** out of him. It was lucky there were some passersby that actually were willing to get involved and pulled him off before he did some serious damage. It was quite obvious to me the fucker was on ice. Needed several able-bodied men to pin him down. Don’t ever bloody well talk to me about legalizing that shitt. Just as we will always have the poor with us, we will always have these f****** stupid morons and I’m all for going after them with a stick if necessary.

  6. Tel

    Using an unrelated murder to generate emotional anger and then link that to your pet hobby horse by … ahhh … Keith Richards?

    I would have thought that Keith Richards, Iggy Pop and a bunch of those other guys were living proof you can do a shedload of drugs and commit no murder at all. The two of them have even remained in remarkably good health, proving that enthusiasm and a bit of good luck beats out any doctor’s advice ever. Bowie did not fare quite as well, but to smear by association with evil murderers seems like a low tactic.

  7. Tel

    Philippine president Duturte is beating it quite resoundingly. But then again, his methods are “uncivilized” to a more mature nation such as ours.

    Hey I can go you one better … the Taliban were extremely effective at bringing an end to opium in Afghanistan in 2001. But then again, their methods are “bloody medieval” to a more mature nation such as ours. Oh well, maybe we just need a bunch of theocratic nutbags running this place … for our own good don’t ya know. Teach us to live proper.

  8. PB

    legal would always equal heavily taxed and expensive, thus a black market would always survive legalisation.

    As for Mr Tahiata, there will always be dindus as long as third-world level nightmare creatures are free to roam through formerly civilised societies.

  9. tgs

    This will be fun.

    Nothing sets off the Cat against itself like a drugs thread.

    FWIW so I’m not accused of being a troll cannabis should be legal, regulated and taxed per 10 US states now. Certainly should be legal for medical use per a majority of the US states. Others should be decriminalised for possession per Portugal with supply and trafficking kept illegal.

  10. Rebel with cause

    Cigs are legal and the state has managed to make a criminal enterprise out of them.

    I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over violent criminals killing other criminals. That’s hardly a new thing.

  11. Candy

    Death penalty for dealers up the high end, and jail for lesser types. Enforced rehab for users.

    The death penalty is not punishment but to deter other very bad types – basically it is self defence to protect society.

  12. John A

    Of course it can’t be bent, while we condone use, and while social attitudes remain stuck with the disastrous sixties “turn on, tune in and drop out” mentality.

    Ye gods, talk about mixed messages!

  13. Chris M

    Thanks for the feel good story to start the day CL, warm feeling when drug dealers get snuffed.

  14. Shy Ted

    The real problem with this story is that we get the bill for this POS for many years to come. Seize his and all related assets to pay the bill and when the money runs out it’s all over.

  15. C.L.

    Using an unrelated murder to generate emotional anger and then link that to your pet hobby horse by … ahhh … Keith Richards?

    Unrelated to what?
    WTF are you talking about, Tel? What is my “hobby horse”?
    Seriously. I don’t understand either of your comments.

  16. Ed Case

    Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata was sentenced by Justice Peter Davis to two life sentences (with no possibility of parole until 2046)

    He’s a gentle giant just trying to turn his life around.
    The Immigration Dept deporting him back to New Zealand in 2046 would be a real Crime, though.

  17. bollux

    The first mistake we make is to assume that if you’re human you are civilised. We need very uncivil treatment for todays crims. If they are dead, at least they won’t be repeat offenders. If they kill a drug user, or another rival, they don’t care, why the hell should we. All the supporters of Portugal should read a bit more about it. Not quite as it seems on the surface, sort of like “cheap Green electricity”.

  18. Ravensclaw

    What makes you think if illicit drugs are decriminalized and provided (free) by the state, illegal drug trade would stop?

    What lunacy! Think about it.

    Do people want to take their drugs at home or at a party? Or do they want to take their drugs at a clinic? Maybe we could throw in free childcare too.

    Do we supply these drugs to pregnant women, knowing how children will be born with an addiction or injury/disability?

    What about drugs that cause additional harm over time e.g. that “fry” the brain, or “eat” the flesh? Will the state provide these drugs too?

    Do you want your kids going to concerts along where unpredictable drug users also attend?

    Please think about these things.

    In Singapore, the place that executes drug dealers (from the mules to the bosses), they average 4 users per 10,000 people. True, they have not eradicated the problem, but they have pushed the problem so far underground, social consequences are small.

    And my last point. The fact that illicit drugs are usually very addictive, this makes the drug using culture by its nature coercive. This contradicts libertarian arguments about illicit drug use and removing the criminal aspect.

    I propose the Singapore approach to illicit drugs. It works. And I have no guilt in sentencing a drug dealer to death.

  19. C.L.

    Yeah, I accept all of that, Ravensclaw.
    But it doesn’t alter the fact that the war on drugs has never worked and can never be won.

  20. candy

    Do we supply these drugs to pregnant women, knowing how children will be born with an addiction or injury/disability?

    All good points, Ravensclaw, and that one really bugs me.

    Legal drugs to women who do not know they are pregnant at the time – addicted baby, neurologically damaged baby, disabled child.

  21. candy

    But it doesn’t alter the fact that the war on drugs has never worked and can never be won.

    It would be interesting to do a national vote on the war on drugs.
    I am quite sure the result will not be legalise drugs and stop fighting the war on drugs.

  22. BorisG

    Do we supply these drugs to pregnant women, knowing how children will be born with an addiction or injury/disability?

    We do with alcohol don’t we? Why any other drugs should be any different ?

  23. Bar Beach Swimmer

    Ravensclaw +1000

    +how do we combat people using drugs turning up to work in that condition if decriminalisation/legalisation occurs? We don’t allow driving while under the influence so what would we think about pilots, doctors, police, surgeons, stock brokers, train drivers etc enjoying pastimes that could effect their ability during working to provide their expertise to others? I can’t see how business could deal with it. And is’t there now a problem for employers finding workers since marijuana was legalised in Colorado?

    It also gives children and young people dreadful role models, not to mention severing parents’ responsibilities to nurture and care for their children if anything is allowed. No family life; no society. Look at remote aboriginal communities if you want to know what happens when anything goes! The problem is, we’re not tough on crime.

    Everything we do is medicinal instead of demanding from everyone self-control, self-discipline, personal responsibility and respect for others.

    Jackson Browne wrote a song about it: Cocaine.
    ‘ I was talking to my doctor down at the hospital
    He said, “Son, it says here you’re twenty-seven,
    But that’s impossible
    Cocaine… you look like you could be forty-five”

    Now I’m losing touch with reality and I’m almost out of blow
    It’s such a fine line… I hate to see it go
    Cocaine, runnin’ all ’round my brain’

  24. Fat Tony

    This talk of executing drug dealers – you realise the only ones that will get caught are the local small fry eg 17 year old kid selling weed to his mates etc.

    The Mister Bigs at the top enjoy various levels of protection and are rarely, if ever, prosecuted.

  25. Whalehunt Fun

    A guarantee of a free pardon and life pension for anyone proven to have killed a drug dealer would make great strides towards a dimished industry. Even better would be criminalising the failure to kill any person who you came to know was a dealer. It needs to be a legal obligation to kill on the spot, any person you could reasonably suspect of being a dealer. Carrot and the stick works wonders.

  26. candy

    We do with alcohol don’t we? Why any other drugs should be any different

    Because FAS is bad enough, why should we encourage more damaged babies.

  27. Whalehunt Fun

    And seeing as how all the 17 year old small time types will be dead the Mr Bigs will find another business.

  28. Roger

    But it doesn’t alter the fact that the war on drugs has never worked and can never be won.

    Defining this as a ‘war’ and success as ‘victory’ inevitably sets up a defeatist attitude to this problem.

    The realistic goal is containment of the ill effects of drug addiction.

    At present, we’re not acheiving that. A new approach is called for.

  29. Chris M

    the war on drugs has never worked and can never be won.

    Never worked? You mean never started in the West CL. Working pretty well in Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and not hard to see who won. We need some empty toolboxes to start this off…

    Your ‘failed war’ claim is like the Communism argument, it definitely works once the parameters are right just no-one has got there yet. And Bernie has figured out the way.

  30. BorisG

    Working pretty well in Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and not hard to see who won

    Is it really working ? Any statistics? They execute lots of drug dealers and jail many others. Which may suggest the drug trade is not eliminated yet, is it?

  31. BorisG

    Because FAS is bad enough, why should we encourage more damaged babies.

    No we don’t encourage that. But legailising drugs may focus resources on protecting children and young mothers.

  32. BorisG

    +how do we combat people using drugs turning up to work in that condition if decriminalisation/legalisation occurs? We don’t allow driving while under the influence so what would we think about pilots, doctors, police, surgeons, stock brokers, train drivers etc enjoying pastimes that could effect their ability during working to provide their expertise to others? I can’t see how business could deal with it.

    Is it any different from alcohol ? Colorado is doing all right.

  33. Fat Tony

    Most workplaces have random drug testing as well as testing for alcohol.
    Extend this to all politicians and government employees

  34. John Brumble

    Claiming that Richards’ habit didn’t fund the death of children is criminally naive at best.
    My bed gets messy each night, and yet I keep making it in the morning.

  35. John A

    C.L. #3331366, posted on February 22, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Yeah, I accept all of that, Ravensclaw.
    But it doesn’t alter the fact that the war on drugs has never worked and can never be won.

    Neither have we won the “war” on the road toll. Nevertheless, the aim is always Zero because life is (meant to be) precious.

  36. Tim Neilson

    Neither have we won the “war” on the road toll.

    Correct. Nor the war on murder, sexual assault, armed robbery etc. The mere fact that something still occurs when its illegal is a weak argument against decriminalisation.

  37. Tim Neilson

    Sorry “weak argument for decriminalisation”.

  38. Tim Neilson

    But legailising drugs may focus resources on protecting children and young mothers.

    Please no.
    Not “let’s make a problem worse and then rely on government to mitigate the bad consequences”.
    Just no.

  39. Tim Neilson

    I would have thought that Keith Richards, Iggy Pop and a bunch of those other guys were living proof you can do a shedload of drugs and commit no murder at all.

    Much as I like Keef, I wouldn’t back him to have led a problem free life if he hadn’t been constantly surrounded by minders keeping him out of trouble the whole time.

    The two of them have even remained in remarkably good health, proving that enthusiasm and a bit of good luck beats out any doctor’s advice ever.

    Do you really think there hasn’t been a truckload of money spent keeping Keef’s pulse going?

    Both on the crime and the health problems it’s unrealistic to use a lavishly funded and protected celeb as a test case for the general public.

  40. BorisG

    The mere fact that something still occurs when its illegal is a weak argument for decriminalisation.

    The war on drugs is not just lost, it is an abysmal failure. The drug use has not declined since the war was Declared by Nixon. It cost literally trillions of dollars and filled thousands jails with countless miserable people, caused immeasurable violence etc.

    I heard this from none other than former US drugs tsar’s interview. Not sure which one, unfortunately.

  41. BorisG

    Not “let’s make a problem worse and then rely on government to mitigate the bad consequences”.
    Just no.

    Not make worse. Make much better. Stop prosecuting people for victimless crimes, and drastially reduce the scope of law enforcement to crimes with victims, mainly children.

    That would drastically reduce the scope of government control.

  42. candy

    The war on drugs is not even serious in Australia.

    It may be interesting to ask the people who are involved – parents of drug addicts, doctors and nurses who treat druggies, the cost to the health system, and the breakdown of families.

    Logically, I just can’t see why legalising drugs stops the effects of drugs. Why should it be different?

  43. Nato

    Hello. May I offer an alternative perspective?

    I would first ask you to focus on the difference between legality and morality.

    Murder is always a heinous crime. Exchanging psychoactive compounds for currency is not. The oxycodone a chemist may dispense from a pharmacy during business hours is the same as you buy from a local entrepreneur under a broken street lamp at 3AM. Both sellers are responding to customer requests for relief. The chemist’s approach is constructive, the pusher’s is destructive but as long as there is suffering, some of us will be searching for escape and asking dealers to vend an evening’s reprieve from the emotional burden.

    That stands in spite of how prominently the consequences that come with drug use feature in Australian education. Falling into a life of chemical dependence requires a misunderstanding of odds, a susceptibility to cognitive entrapment, unrealistic optimism, a belief in personal luck, superstitious thinking, the illusion of control, the erroneous perception of near misses, the framing of outcomes and applying extended, persistent chemical interference with proper brain function.

    The the harm you do to yourself, as a drug abuser, and the harm that comes via you to those who purchased your product, as a drug dealer, bear no comparison to the direct harm from a murderer to victim. “I harmed myself” and “You pay me to harm yourself” are immoral, but should they have the legal culpability of “I will now harm that person”?

    I would encourage you to consider that border between “behaving immorally” and “being a predator” when discussing how far the government should go because you’re usually pretty serious in this corner of the web. While I read the site a lot, I don’t comment much. I haven’t seen anyone else point out that you’re using the rhetoric of an anti-coal activist. I would want to be told.

    “I also feel a renewed visceral loathing for the revolting animals involved and want them arrested and locked up for long terms.”

    Final point: The defendant committed murder to avoid a possible imprisonment. Were the victims murdered because of the drugs or because of the drug laws?

  44. Bar Beach Swimmer

    Question: Have injecting rooms ensured that the activities have remained within the confines of the establishment or have they spilled over onto the surrounding streets and neighbourhood?
    Answer: see Richmond, Vic.

    For government and the dealer/user, it is “all care, no responsibility”. So everyone else pays.

    In medical interventions (ambulance/hospital).
    Lost productivity (no work and dole payments).
    Break down of family life and neglect (no care for the children) and learned behaviours to subsequent generations.
    Further govt intervention through police and the courts because of crime/antisocial behaviour.
    Ongoing health needs of the individual.
    All of which is paid by taxpayers with no ROI!

  45. Nato:

    Final point: The defendant committed murder to avoid a possible imprisonment. Were the victims murdered because of the drugs or because of the drug laws?

    “At this point, what difference does it make?”

  46. Damn.
    Hit the wrong button.
    Nato – the War on Drugs has been a disaster for our society.
    I would beat the hell out of the people who would sell drugs to my kids, but I’m not allowed to. The legal system allows the sellers to get away with their predations.
    The entire system is a jumbled mess – but it keeps a LOT of people in the money.

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