A “social loser” became an internet drug dealer to feel connected to a community and find purpose in life; he’s told a Sydney court.
Cody Ronald Ward, 26, has pleaded guilty to six of the main charges laid against him, such as importing commercial quantities of a border controlled drug and providing a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.
Each offense carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Ward operated a dark web drug business from his Callala Bay home on the country’s south shore for approximately four years under the pseudonym of NSWGreat, the District Court heard during his sentence hearing on Thursday.
After his arrest in February 2019 he was allegedly found with MDMA, 2.5 kilograms of cocaine, amphetamine, 100,000 LSD tabs, Xanax disguised as candy, tablets, $80,000 money, laptops and cash counters.
On Thursday, Ward gave evidence via video-link of troubled youth from “acute” bullying, saying that he was obese with a couple of friends.
But after producing alter-egos in computer games and getting fascinated with cryptocurrency, he purchased drug samples from throughout the globe and became “deeply involved.”
“In real life, I was a loser… nobody cared to speak to me… everyone looked down on me,” he said.
“Online everyone appeared to me… everybody would speak to me.”
After starting his first dark web business on Silk Road, he felt like he felt community, a goal, social acceptance, and discovered friends, he said.
He has since been diagnosed with custody with a social anxiety disorder.
While enjoying online celebrity, Ward tried to bolster his “advertising” and “lovers” by providing a meeting under his alias to a news publication, asserting a “group of ghosts” helped his importation of drugs from abroad.
However, in court, he said that this was a “red herring” to throw off police and he acted independently, with some help from a female friend in dispersing the illegal substances.
After his arrest, pictures emerged on the internet of him “alive the high-life” with fancy sports cars such as a Mercedes-Benz and Maserati.
Judge Robyn Tupman said the following impression “made you look as though you were very, very wealthy.”
But Ward, who had been supposedly linked with $17 million worth of bitcoin and monero trades, said lots of the cash went to feeding his hefty daily drug addiction, and the unregistered Maserati worth $7,000 was a statutory right-off.
He had been threatened with extortion in prison with blades pulled him after he was dragged off-camera, he said.
He’s expected to be sentenced on February 12, 2021.