“That’s a label he’s had for about 10 years. They have an intrinsic value of their own,” he said.
The court heard police had been listening in on Holt’s girlfriend Katia Drcec’s phone when they pounced on the black Mercedes as the pair drove along the Princes Highway through Geelong’s north on January 4, 2017.
Inside police discovered 82.8 grams of the drug ice, with a purity of 85 per cent, hidden under a rear passenger seat.
Detectives subsequently searched the Mill Park house Drcec shared with her mother and allegedly found a further 17.5 grams of ice, $14,000 in cash, deal bags, scales and a semi-automatic handgun.
The following day police searched another of Holt’s vehicles and seized knuckledusters sporting his nickname “Bang Bang”.
Mr Melasecca said his client’s offending stemmed from an ice addiction that began after the breakdown of his family. He said as a teenager Holt had been given a full Tennis Australia scholarship but “lost the plot” after his father was twice arrested for serious crimes including high-level drug manufacturing.
Mr Melasecca said Holt dropped out of school before becoming addicted to steroids and body building. In 2007, he signed on as a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang.
He began using his signature number plates in the years after.
“It really goes to show when you start using drugs … it grabs you by the throat. That’s exactly what happened,” Mr Melasecca said.
“He was an extremely skilled tennis player. His mother had him travelling six times a week.”
The drug trafficker’s mother, Gisela Holt, a hypnotherapist, gave evidence during her son’s plea hearing, describing him as a brilliant tennis player before his drug addiction took hold.
“I told him I don’t want you coming to my funeral in handcuffs as his father did at his mother’s funeral,” she said.
Four people, including Holt and Drcec, were arrested during the January 2017 raids.
Ms Drcec will return to court next month for a plea hearing on her drug trafficking matters.
Mark Thompson, who was subsequently charged over drugs allegedly found at his Port Melbourne home, is due to contest his drug charges next month.
The fate of the “ONBA1L” numberplates will be decided when Holt is sentenced next week after pleaded guilty to trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs, using false documents, trafficking a drug of dependence, possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing the proceeds of crime.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.