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Cressel v The Queen [2021] NSWCCA 26

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug contrary to s 307.1(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug contrary to s 307.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Original sentence imposed 15 years and 6 months imprisonment with a 6 year and 6 month non-parole period. Count 1 related to 3326.3 grams of pure cocaine. Count 2 related to 1423.7 grams of pure cocaine. The offender appealed on the basis that the sentencing judge erred by expressly failing to take into account the utilitarian value of the plea of guilty.  

Guilty Plea: Reasons for sentence were given at time prior to Xiao v The Queen being determined. Plea carries with it significant utilitarian value. Discount of 25% is appropriate. Offender wrote a letter outlining remorse to the sentencing judge. Little weight is placed on the contents of that letter. There is considerable evidence of offender’s expressions of remorse and the Court was satisfied those expressions are genuine.  

Hardship to Offender: Offender was subjected to serious racial vilification by a group of Correctional Officers. Psychologist reported that as a consequence of the incident the offender reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of PTSD. Psychologist concluded offender’s mental health had been eroded because of the incident, which had rendered time in custody more onerous. This is a factor of some significance.  

Leave to appeal granted. Appeal allowed. Offender sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with a 6 year non-parole period.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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