Singer Shannon Noll has experienced a “profound fall from grace” after being caught with cocaine and has been punished by hits to his bank account and career, a Sydney magistrate says.
The 43-year-old pleaded guilty at Sutherland Local Court on Thursday and was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond by magistrate Glenn Walsh, escaping conviction for prohibited drug possession.
Outside court, Noll thanked the magistrate and his lawyer, Bryan Wrench, before telling reporters: “(I’m) just looking forward to putting this behind me and getting back to work.”
Noll was caught with 0.53 grams of cocaine at Caringbah Hotel on September 13.
He was playing pool with friends when he saw a drug dog enter the room and moved to a secluded corner before taking a clear bag of white powder from his pocket and dropping it under a table, according to the agreed facts.
The drug drop was seen by police and captured on CCTV and body-worn cameras.
“For a man of 43, I would say that there was a profound fall from grace, that it was contrary to his previous good character,” the magistrate said upon imposing the bond.
Farmers and celebrities – including Kyle Sandilands – were among those who provided character references for the Australian Idol 2003 runner-up originally from Condobolin.
“He’s never really gotten over the death of his father,” Mr Walsh said after reading the tendered documents, adding that there was no evidence Noll is a drug addict.
The magistrate said Noll has experienced “extra-curial” punishment via public scrutiny and financial loss since the charge.
Mr Wrench submitted his client suffers severe clinical depression and has a significant back problem after an injury suffered while competing on the TV show Dancing With The Stars.
“There is no doubt he is a public persona but associated with that comes public humiliation which he suffered as a consequence of his conduct,” the lawyer said.
Noll has donated almost a million dollars to charity, including drought-affected farmers, by way of free appearances and song royalties, Mr Wrench said.
He said Noll had two performances cancelled immediately after the drug charge and lost thousands of dollars as a result.
“He is not just a good person, he is a great man, who has donated selflessly to charities and organisations.
“He has risen up and he’s trying to raise everyone else up … (but) he can’t help himself.”
Mr Walsh said Noll’s guilty plea indicated remorse and contrition but he will call him back before the court if he breaks his word.
“Frankly, his status as a singer has little to do with this case,” the magistrate said.