DPP gets tough on trafficker sentence
A YOUNG woman jailed last year after she tried to smuggle $150,000 worth of drugs into Hobart inside her bra is facing the prospect of extra time in prison.
Former Sydney stripper Alexandra Rose Kobelke, 26, is currently serving a minimum 16 months in jail after she first went into custody last March, meaning she is eligible to apply for parole this July.
But Tasmania's Department of Public Prosecutions says Kobelke's head sentence of two years and eight months was "manifestly inadequate" and should be increased to deter other would-be drug traffickers.
"The sentence … for a sustained course of conduct is plainly unjust and unreasonable," lawyer Jackie Hartnett argued in the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday. "It was a substantial drug importation business."
Ms Hartnett told the appeal judges Helen Wood, Michael Brett and Brian Martin that legal proceedings for Kobelke's co-accused had not finalised yet, but accepted she had not been behind the 13-month operation. But she said Kobelke played an integral role in the business, which she said trafficked more than half a million dollars worth of drugs from Sydney into Tasmania, by packaging, distributing, concealing and transporting ice and cocaine, and also by returning profits to NSW.
"Her involvement was beyond just a mere patsy who was strapped up and packed on a plane," Ms Hartnett said.
"It was frequent conduct. It was planned and systematic."
Acting Justice Martin asked if it would be enough to dismiss the appeal, noting it was a lenient sentence, but saying that offenders in future should not expect such leniency.
"With respect, no. Those warning shots have been fired before," Ms Hartnett said.
But lawyer Greg Richardson, acting for Kobelke, denied suggestions the drug operation was "sophisticated".
He also argued his client had pleaded guilty to trafficking at an early stage and that her sentence fitted "well and truly within range".
The appeal judges reserved their decision, which they will deliver at a later date.