Downfall of Coast ice queen: $3.2m profits to 10 years jail
IN JANUARY 2015, a middle-aged Buderim mother started running a small business from her family home.
Six months later, Rebecca Teresa Castner's enterprise was employing four people and raking in tens of thousands of dollars every week.
She boasted dedicated customers on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane and she had access to a luxury high rise in the city where she liked to store her special product and her cash.
She had multiple vehicles - including a costly Jeep Cherokee - and even employed a personal assistant, driver, security guards and debt collectors.
However, the 53-year-old's incredible profit-making ability was not something you would read about in the Australian Financial Review.
Her business was built on the back of one of this country's most destructive epidemics - the ice scourge.
Between January and July of 2015, the Sunshine Coast's ice queen off-loaded 107 ounces of methamphetamine, plus some prescription drugs, for up to $3.2 million.
"Being a crack lord is an easy life," the Courier Mail reported she said during a phone call recorded by police.
"They'll never catch me.
"We were making so much money we couldn't spend it."
Castner's high life of cash "stuffed in cushions" hit free-fall when in July 2015 a police operation culminated in the mother-of-three being arrested along with 22 others.
On Thursday, Castner started serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to nine charges related to drug trafficking.
Standing in the the dock of Brisbane Supreme Court, she nodded her head repeatedly as Justice Helen Bowskill described how the business woman built her empire selling a "horrible" and "destructive" product.
Justice Bowskill explained how Castner ran her empire from her home, dubbed the 'drug lord house', and how she used threats of violence and other stand-over tactics to ensure her clients paid their debts.
The court heard Castner only paid her employees in free rent and drugs and that she even supplied her children with drugs for their own use and for their own illegal trafficking operations.
Justice Bowskill said that when Castner realised police were onto her crimes, the defendant simply moved her operation to a resort in Mooloolaba.
"Your conduct was clearly done by someone in power, you were clearly dominating others and clearly enjoying it," Justice Bowskill said.
"All of your employees have been sentenced for their role in this business.
"It's fair to say their conduct was much lesser than yours."
While the Crown wanted Castner locked up for 12 years, Justice Bowskill sentenced her to 10 years because of her guilty plea.
"The impact this drug has on our community ... is nothing short of horrific," Justice Bowskill said.
"That is why offences of this kind attract severe penalties.
"This is the only way we send a message to the community that it (dealing drugs) is not worth it.
"It is not worth becoming involved in this conduct because you will go to jail - you will go to jail for a significant period."
Justice Bowskill did not assign a parole eligibility date but Castner can apply for release after serving 80% of the sentence.
About 163 days were taken off the sentence for time served.