AustraliaPhat Stacks burger restaurant founder guilty of drug trafficking
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Before a young refugee turned to drug trafficking, he would have been considered a "success story", a Melbourne court has been told.
Emad Zarghami was found guilty of trafficking cocaine by a County Court jury last week after being found with 280 grams of the drug in his Audi sports car while leaving Crown Casino on December 26, 2017.
He was on bail at the time after being previously found with amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.
The 24-year-old, who fled Iran and travelled to Australia by boat with his family as a child, had been living a "high-roller lifestyle" at the time of his arrest, including purchasing the Audi and two Rolex watches, along with hotel and casino visits.
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"The flashy car, the lifestyle, the casinos and so forth has all come to what? Nothing. He's going to do a jail term. He's going to be punished," his lawyer Nicholas Papas told a pre-sentence hearing today.
Zarghami had "suffered a huge fall" after once being considered a model refugee, Mr Papas added.
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A teenager who was given a $550 fine for surfing naked at a popular Sydney beach told police the stunt was for a free burger. © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited A teenager was given a $550 fine for surfing naked at Sydney's Manly Beach. He told police the stunt was a dare for a free burger The 19-year-old said his friends had promised him a free burger if he surfed nude at the Manly Beach, Sydney, on Sunday afternoon. Onlookers including families and young children watched on in horror as the man stripped naked and paddled out on his surfboard, the Daily Telegraph reported.
At the age of six, Zarghami, his two-year-old brother and parents made two attempts to get to Australia from Indonesia on a people-smuggler's boat.
The first was intercepted by Indonesian authorities and the family spent three months in a detention centre before trying again and reaching Australia.
They spent six months in South Australia's Woomera Detention Centre before settling in Melbourne, where Zarghami became a high-achieving student.
He won a scholarship to study commerce at the University of Melbourne before opening a successful gourmet burger restaurant, Phat Stacks, with his parents at Camberwell.
"People who spend weeks on a boat coming from Indonesia at great personal risk can achieve something as proper members of society. He showed that until he got into the grip of drugs," Mr Papas said.
"Up until 2017 he'd be viewed as a significant success story," Judge Michael Tinney conceded.
Mr Papas said Zarghami would be "retraumatised" if sentenced to a lengthy jail term and asked the judge to consider his client's age and lack of criminal history prior to 2017.
The restaurant has since been sold and Zarghami told the court today his occupation was a "professional gambler".
"He spends much of his time playing cards, which he thinks he can make a living off," Mr Papas said, noting his "parents aren't keen on that".
"He's just living a totally warped existence," Judge Tinney said.
Zarghami will be sentenced on Wednesday.
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