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R v Keelan [2022] NSWDC 387

The offender was sentenced following a plea of guilty to 1 count of attempting to possess an unlawfully imported border-controlled drug contrary to ss 11.1(1) and 307.6(1) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Offending related to 239.7 grams of pure heroin.

Nature and Circumstances: Offender was on the low end of the hierarchy in this case. Offender was used by the principal(s) to recover the illicitly imported substance to prevent them from being exposed to interdiction and arrest. Offender facilitated the principal(s) in the organisation. Offender was a low-level participant. The weight of the drug is not an insubstantial amount, well in excess of the marketable quantity.

Antecedents: Offender has an extraordinarily long record extending to 44 pages. However, most of offender’s criminal history is low level crime, in most instances what is likely to have been opportunistic crime. Offender’s record is poor, but they should not be dismissed without an understanding of the nature of the misconduct upon which they have engaged throughout their life. Sentence assessment report is not favourable to offender and in some respects a little confused. Offender has been struggling financially and alone. Offender has had significant challenges through their formative years because of lack of affection and proper nurturing throughout the period when they were growing to adulthood. In this case specific deterrence has its role because of the tendency demonstrated by the offender to opportunistically engage upon criminal activity.

Mental Condition: Offender was diagnosed with a dual diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use dependence and a depressive disorder. The complex post-traumatic stress disorder is said to have affected offender for most of their life and the substance dependence for about 35 years. Offender suffered at least psychological impairment to some extent. Whether it extended to ‘significantly’ affect their capacity to make sound judgement is a matter upon which it is difficult to make a finding. Offender’s challenges, such as they are, led to the poor decision that they made on this occasion, bearing in mind that they were, according to their perception at least, in some economic peril.

Contrition: Offender admitted that it was undeniably wrong to have committed the offence and is appalled by their actions and gave expressions of regret and remorse and acknowledged that their behaviour was reckless and compulsive. One would have thought that in light of offender’s life experiences and their own drug use they would have had an appreciation of the impact on the wider community before they committed the crime. Offender’s plea of guilty is a demonstration of contrition.

Offender sentenced to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 2 years.
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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