Dumb mistake? Dad caught with ‘bikie’ drugs, cash, shotgun
A FAMILY man busted with $68,000 in cash, a sawn-off shotgun and more than 8kg of marijuana has claimed he was simply holding onto the items for his outlaw bikie cousin.
Crown prosecutor Cecelia Bernardin told Ipswich District Court on Monday the marijuana was stored in cryovac bags, with some drugs also secreted in speaker boxes and an esky in the bathroom of the Goodna family home of Henare Thompson-Pouoa.
During his sentence, the offender claimed he was to receive $2000 for looking after the drugs and cash for his relative, who he said was a Bandidos member.
Watched by his fiance and extended family, Henare Thompson-Pouoa, 25, pleaded guilty to being in possession of dangerous drugs in excess of 500 grams at Goodna on January 20, 2020; possession of the drug MDMA; possession of Diazepam; unlawful possession of a weapon (shotgun); and possession of a shortened firearm.
Ms Bernardin said the total weight of marijuana was 8.45kg and deemed to be a commercial quantity.
The court heard the drugs had a street value of at least $53,000 and depending on how it was packaged could sell for as much as $200,000.
Police located five Diazepam tablets and 23 orange tablets identified as MDMA.
Detectives also seized $60,600 cash, which was found in a drawer and in an unlocked safe, as well as $6,100 in a bag, and more cash in small amounts elsewhere with a total find of $68,205.
A shotgun and three taser cartridges were found in a cupboard, the court was told.
Defence barrister James Godbolt said there was no evidence Thompson-Pouoa was a drug dealer.
"He instructed he was to receive payment. It is a plea on the basis of commerciality but he was holding it for others," Mr Godbolt said.
"There had been a real break in his offending behaviour.
"He has three children - soon to be four.
"The offending relates to when he was out of work.
"He had certain associates. A cousin who is a member of the Bandidos approached him.
"He did so on the promise he would receive $2000.
"The money located and the gun he was holding for others. He was to get paid."
Judge Bernard Porter QC intervened, asking the prosecutor if the Crown was aware of this defence argument.
Ms Bernardin said she wasn't aware.
"Given his five-year break in offending it is not without credibility. I don't have a view either way," Judge Porter said.
He adjourned the sentence hearing to allow the prosecutor to seek instruction and to 'reflect' on the defence submission.
The sentence resumed after 20 minutes with no evidence either way that would shed further light on the legal argument.
Judge Porter said the circumstances of the offending were very serious.
He said it was fortunate Thompson-Pouoa was charged with possession and not facing a trafficking charge given the significant amount of cannabis involved.
"What has emerged today is that you were in possession of all of this drugs and cash and a weapon at the request of a relative, an outlaw motorcycle gang member and that you would receive $2000," Judge Porter said.
"My initial reaction was one of cynicism. It was not challenged in context and on balance it may be true.
"It was probably not worth $2000 by involving yourself in this commercial type of activity that you exposed yourself to."
Judge Porter noted Thompson-Pouoa's very good family references, and that did have prior offences that involved violence for which he received "very merciful" sentences.
He said that his fiance wrote to the court that it was "something stupid you did".
"However, I am very troubled by the firearm," he said.
Judge Porter sentenced Thompson-Pouoa to a 2 ½ year jail term, saying it was appropriate. Lesser concurrent jail terms were also imposed.
He must serve six months behind bars before being due for release on parole on August 6.