CCTV records tendered in the District Court show that Murphy would visit the self-storage facility multiple times per day for three-minute periods in that month.
By the end of June, police had sufficient suspicion to execute a late-night search warrant on his locker.
Inside, investigators found a sealed PVC pipe containing a brick of cocaine weighing 572 grams.
Scrawled in red texta on the brick was #20, court documents say.
When investigators returned five days later, they again found a brick of cocaine with #20 scrawled in red inside a sealed pipe in the storage unit.
It weighed three grams lighter. Surveillance shows Murphy return to the unit in September, pocket the cocaine and walk out.
The next day, he was captured on CCTV placing several plastic bags containing white substances inside the PVC piece of pipe.
Police seized seven bags of cocaine from the storage unit, several of which had Murphy’s DNA on them.
When they arrived at the unit to arrest him, investigators also seized cocaine hidden in the air-conditioning duct, a bag hidden in the entrance cabinet and a vacuum sealing machine.
Like the lead character in Clint Eastwood’s 2018 film The Mule, Murphy was also an aged pensioner with money problems and no obvious way out.
But unlike Leo Sharp, Murphy wasn’t working for an enormous cartel or transporting millions of dollars worth of drugs. Rather, he took to warehousing the 559 grams of cocaine for his dealer in an effort to pay off a $1600 drug debt to his dealer, the District Court heard last week.
He was told his dealer would collect the drugs within four weeks, but the cocaine remained inside his storage unit for nine.
The aged pensioner had been a cocaine user for 14 years when the law caught up with him in September 2019, Judge Gina O’Rourke SC heard, often taking the drug at home to relax with a beer.
Murphy’s “decades of drug use had normalised criminality [to him]”, Judge O’Rourke SC said on Thursday.
“It was stupid of me … I should’ve known better. I made a decision 40 years ago to not be involved in crime, I can’t believe this is where I’ve ended up,” the now 72-year-old said in material tendered to the court.
He has been sober since being arrested and remanded in prison until a successful bail application in April, the longest period he has had free of cocaine in four years, the court heard.
“He is clearly remorseful and acknowledges the complete stupidity of becoming involved in a criminal escapade for $1600,” Judge O’Rourke said.
Murphy was given a two-year sentence to be served in the community.
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Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.