Sent to jail over shotgun killing, but Mt Isa shooter returned to guns, drugs

A man previously jailed over a fatal shooting has admitted to possessing drugs and firearms, prompting a judge to question whether he is fit to live in the community.

Apr 11, 2024, updated Apr 11, 2024
 File image.

File image.

Aaron Jon Woodsbey, 39, pleaded guilty on Thursday in Brisbane Supreme Court to possessing the equivalent of 200 grams of pure methamphetamine, $40,000 in cash and numerous semi-automatic firearms including handguns and weapons with shortened barrels.

Justice Peter Callaghan said Woodsbey had engaged in an extremely high level of criminal behaviour, given his previous conviction for manslaughter that was carried out with a firearm and connected to drug dealing.

“Your offending in such a serious manner so soon after release seems to me to raise a serious question about your fitness to be a member of society at large,” Justice Callaghan said.

Woodsbey was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in 2014 for the manslaughter of Aaron Macfarlane as well as drug trafficking and weapons charges.

Mr MacFarlane, 30, staggered into Mount Isa Base Hospital in Queensland’s Gulf Country region, on the night of January 3, 2012, with a gunshot wound to the chest

He underwent emergency surgery but died the following day.

Crown prosecutor Stephanie Gallagher told the court on Thursday that Woodsbey had been released on parole in January 2022, had tested negative for drugs and complied with reporting requirements.

“He was taken back into custody on February 27, 2023 … he was found with a significant quantity of methamphetamine and cash along with a few other drugs and paraphernalia,” Ms Gallagher said.

Police later raided a property connected to Woodsbey and found multiple firearms and detachable ammunition magazines that allow for rapid reloading of a firearm.

“This is incredibly serious criminal activity. His lengthy time in prison has not had a deterrent effect,” Ms Gallagher said.

Defence barrister Angus Edwards said Woodsbey had been accepted into a drug treatment program and had completed programs in custody around avoiding violence and drugs.

“He has spent a lengthy period in custody, part of twenties and most of thirties,” Mr Edwards said.

Justice Callaghan told Woodsbey he had been handed a lengthy sentence for manslaughter because of the tragic consequences of combining drug dealing with guns.

“You should have learned from that experience. Someone with any conscience, any compassion for a victim they have killed, might have understood that and been particularly wary of committing further offences of that nature. You are not,” Justice Callaghan said.

The judge said Woodsbey’s storage of firearms in sealed bags suggested he intended to sell weapons as well as drugs.

“It will need to be confirmed that you have remained crime and drug free for a lengthy period in order to have any confidence in your ability to be a member of the community who rejects guns and drugs,” Justice Callaghan said.

Woodsbey was sentenced to nine years in prison, with none of the 409 days he has spent on remand recognised as time served.

He will be able to apply for parole in late September.

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