by Mark Oberhardt | From: The Courier-Mail | August 26, 2011 12:59PM
A COUPLE who claimed they attempted to import a large amount of cocaine to the Gold Coast because they were threatened by a Colombian drug cartel were jailed for 11 years.
The Chief Justice Paul de Jersey praised the Australian Federal Police for their efforts in the case which involved drugs sent from South America to Australia via Germany.
“There are those who say the war on drugs cannot be won. But police and the courts are doing their best to rebut this,” Justice de Jersey said.
A Supreme Court jury in Brisbane took about four hours last week to find Geoffrey Kennedy, 53, and his partner Jennifer Maritza Romero Maya, 30, guilty of attempting to possess cocaine at the Gold Coast in mid-2008.
The five-day trial heard that authorities in Germany intercepted two parcels bound for Australia and found high-grade cocaine paste hidden in hydraulic cylinders.
A controlled operation was conducted with the Australia Federal Police involving the first parcel being sent to Australia but the second never left Germany.
The two parcels, which originated in Colombia but were sent from Argentina, contained a total of 1865 grams of cocaine with a purity of 86 and 87 per cent.
The wholesale value was $400,000 to $500,000 with a street value of $1 million to $1.9 million.
The trial heard the New Zealand-based couple came to Australia on an apparent holiday where they spent $4270 on apartments, couriers and mobile phones to disguise their efforts to get the drugs.
A central point to the trial was whether they had attempted to import the drugs because of threats made by drug dealers against Romero Maya’s stepfather.
Barrister Greg McGuire, for Kennedy, said it should be accepted his client had been told of the threat and this was shown by him telling police he was “piggy in the middle”.
Romero Maya’s barrister Kate Greenwood instructed by Mark Williams of Potts Lawyers said her client should be sentenced on the basis of the threat.
But prosecutor Josh Hanna said there had been no mention of a threat on covert police tape recordings made of the couple’s conversations.
“The idea of such a threat is a fanciful concoction,” Mr Hanna said.
The Chief Justice Paul de Jersey agreed with Mr Hanna and said he found on the evidence there had been no threats.
“It was telling that there was no mention of threats in the recordings,” he said.
Justice de Jersey found it had been a joint enterprise between the couple and he rejected that they were “misguided novices”.
He said he accepted the pair were more than couriers.
Justice de Jersey sentenced both to 11 years jail with a non-parole period of seven years.