A former Home and Away star was “absolutely stoked” to learn he won’t be going to jail for dealing cocaine in the idyllic Byron Bay area.
Putu Sugiarta Winchester-Stanton appeared in the NSW District Court on Wednesday to learn his fate after pleading guilty to supplying 476g of cocaine in the NSW coastal region.
Court documents reveal the 46-year-old supplied the illicit drug to buyers in the regional area of Mullumbimby between January 21 and April 22, 2021.
He was arrested after a series of police raids were conducted to interrupt the supply of cocaine in the hinterland area.
Officers busted drug operations using phone taps, surveillance, and controlled drug exchanges with undercover police operatives.
During the sting, police discovered the former Heartbreak High actor dealt drugs throughout the region for his own financial gain.
Court documents reveal Winchester-Stanton has a history of drug-related matters and he was considered a “significant flight risk” when he applied for bail.
Judge Timothy Gartelmann was due to sentence the former small screen star on Wednesday, but instead he adjourned the matter in order to obtain a sentencing assessment report.
The report will inform the court whether Winchester-Stanton is eligible to perform community service as part of his non-custodial sentence.
“I’m able to confidently say that, no matter how the sentencing is structured, he won’t be returning to full-time custody,” Judge Gartelmann announced.
The former actor, who was wearing a black suit and crisp white shirt, grinned and visibly sagged with relief at the proclamation.
He was supported in court by several friends who crowded around him and hugged him closely.
The judge noted a “fair phalanx of people” had “made some effort to travel some distance” to be in court to support Winchester-Stanton.
“Some of your anxieties about what might happen to your friend will have dissipated after what I’ve had to say,” he told the actor’s assembled friends.
Outside court, Winchester-Stanton said he was “absolutely stoked” to learn he wouldn’t be going to jail.
“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted, obviously,” he said.
The 46-year-old said he was focused on living a “much healthier and more positive lifestyle” after he was busted dealing drugs.
“I’ve learned how to redirect my trajectory in life through positive thinking,” he told reporters.
Judge Gartelmann will take into consideration six related charges of drug supply and possession when he sentences Winchester-Stanton in November.
The Indonesian-born actor shot to fame when he was only 18 years old after he starred in the hit Australian show Heartbreak High.
He won hearts across the country while portraying class clown Dennis Klinsmann from 1997 to 1999.
The heart-throb subsequently starred in the long-running series Home and Away in 2000, when he also played a role in the gritty TV show Water Rats.
His most recent acting role was in the indie art house film Hell is Light, which was released in 2018 to critical acclaim.