Cannabis courier unable to work
A COURIER for a cannabis ring that smuggled $1.8 million of the drug into the NT was on a disability pension and "unable to work in a traditional employment sense", a court has heard.
James Weston, 52, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to commercial drug supply after admitting to his role as a middle man in the syndicate which trafficked 300kg of cannabis from South Australia in 2016 and 2017.
The court heard Weston came on board part way through the operation and was responsible for distributing 150kg of the drug to dealers in Darwin for a small cut of the profits.
In arguing for a partially suspended sentence, Weston's lawyer, Matt Hubber, told the court his client was on a disability support pension since being "quite severely beaten" and was unable to work.
But Justice Judith Kelly questioned how Weston was able to participate in the drug trade if his disability prevented him from working.
"Hang on, he can't work but he can distribute large quantities of drugs in the community, how does that work?" she asked.
"Perhaps (his pension) should be reviewed if he's capable of running a successful drug dealing business."
Mr Hubber agreed it was "somewhat of an anomaly" but argued Weston's role in the drug ring was relatively unsophisticated.
"He was a courier and really his part in all of this wasn't particularly complicated, picking up boxes and dropping them off," he said.
Justice Kelly suggested Weston could have potentially found work as a delivery driver and Mr Hubber conceded he would "have to agree that he probably could".
"He says he was beaten almost to death and he spent some time in a coma, he had to learn to walk again, talk again and I can tell you from speaking to him for many months there are obvious issues there," he said.
Crown prosecutor David Morters said while Weston deserved a "significant discount" on his sentence for helping police extradite syndicate kingpin, 65-year-old Giuseppe Romeo, from SA, the court had not heard "the full story" about he bashing.
"He was still able as your honour's rightly identified - not withstanding being on a disability pension - to be able to run a reasonably large scale (distribution business), which is illegal and must require a fair bit of acumen to get away with it for such a long period of time," he said.
"It's unfair to describe it as unsophisticated (just) because they got caught, the reason they got caught was because of some very good investigative work by the police."
On Tuesday, Romeo also pleaded guilty to commercial drug supply, after previously admitting to the scheme in partnership with "a group of a Albanian nationals involved in the cultivation of the cannabis".
Weston will return to court for sentencing on November 12 and Romeo will face a contested facts hearing on November 25.