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DPP & CDPP v Marrogi & Mannella [2023] VCC 280

Marrogi and Mannella were sentenced following pleas of guilty each to 1 count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled substance contrary to s 307.1(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Offending related to 42.14 kilograms of pure methamphetamine and 8.8 kilograms of pure heroin. Both offenders were also sentenced for a state drug importation offence.

Nature and Circumstances: The aggravating features of the Commonwealth offending include the quantity of the drugs — 56 times the commercial quantity of methamphetamine and 5 times the commercial quantity of heroin; the estimated street value of the drugs of between $23 million and $34 million; and that offender were in the business of drug importing.

Parity: Marrogi ‘assumes primary responsibility for the offending’. Marrogi was running a drug importation business while in custody and manipulated Mannella into assisting them by taking advantage of their romantic attachment. While Mannella’s role is clearly subordinate to that of their co-offender. Mannella falls into a category that is lower than the ultimate principal but a person who plays a ‘key role’ in each operation. Mannella’s sentences should be considerably shorter than Marrogi’s to reflect their lesser role in offending, their lack of prior convictions, and their positive prospects of rehabilitation.

Mental Condition: Mannella’s father was violent to their mother. When Mannella was 6 years old, their father was executed, possible for underworld related reasons. Psychologist diagnoses Mannella with dependent personality disorder, a ‘legacy of a highly disturbing and extreme experience of familial violence’ and post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologist concludes that ‘imprisonment has and will continue to have an adverse effect on [Mannella’s] mental health’. This enlivens limb 6 of Verdins. Mannella’s disorders do not have anything to do with their motivation to offend.

Hardship: Mannella has been held in solitary confinement for 8 months while on remand in very difficult circumstances. Others in the unit are confined there temporarily to deal with mental health issues or withdrawal from drugs. They scream, smear the walls with their faeces and are disruptive. Sleep is difficult and social interaction nearly non-existent. Mannella has limited opportunity to exercise. Mannella will remain in solitary confinement for the duration of their sentence for their protection. Manella’s predicament in jail is dire. Other than Mannella’s association with their co-offender and his notoriety, Mannella’s placement in protective custody is through no fault of their own.

Antecedents: In 2005, Marrogi stabbed and killed one person and stabbed and injured another. They were convicted of manslaughter. Shortly after their release on parole, Marrogi committed further offences. Between May 2005 and 2016, Marrogi spent most of their life in jail. Marrogi was charged in 2016 and convicted of murder. While Marrogi clearly has an extensive criminal history, none of their previous convictions have involved drug trafficking.

Marrogi sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years for the Commonwealth offence. Mannella sentenced to 11 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4 years and 10 months for the Commonwealth offence.
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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