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DPP (Cth) v Chuah [2021] VCC 282

The offender was sentenced after a plea of guilty of 1 count of attempting to possess a marketable quantity of an unlawfully imported controlled drug contrary to s 11.1(1) and 307.6(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 1 count of improper possession of a foreign travel document contrary to s 21(4) of the Foreign Passports (Law Enforcement and Security) Act 2005 (Cth). Offence relates to 401 grams of pure methamphetamine. Three further offences taken into account under s16BA Crimes Act 1914 in relation to attempting to possess marketable quantity of unlawfully imported border-controlled drug.  

Nature and Circumstances: In the absence of specific evidence to the contrary, the common-sense inference should be drawn that offender committed the offence for profit. Inference can be drawn that the offender had a firm understanding of the quantity of the substance that was being imported. Offender had knowledge of, as opposed to being reckless to, the fact that the substance imported was in fact a border-controlled drug. Offending is serious. Offender knew and understood that they were unable to re-enter Australia for a period of not less than three years when they were deported in 2016. Offender entered Australia on a new passport under a false name, blatantly and dishonestly disregarding the prohibition. Offender did not enter Australia with the sole purpose of committing the drug offences.  

Guilty Plea: Offender admitted to offences pursuant to s 16BA in circumstances where a question remained in relation to the purity of the drugs found in the three other packages. Plea was not made at earliest opportunity but has spared court time and expense.  

Hardship to Offender: Time in custody has been particularly difficult and isolating. Offender has received no visits from family and friends. Offender has limited English skills and there is a lack of other Cantonese speakers in prison. Offender has been able to speak regularly to family in Malaysia. Significant portion of remand time has been served during COVID-19 restrictions, creating a further burden in addition to isolation.  

Offender sentenced to 8 years imprisonment with a 4 year and 6-month 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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