Guiseppe Romeo was sentenced in the Northern Territory Supreme Court in Darwin on January 6, 2020. (ABC News: Tristan Hooft)
A South Australian “career criminal” who was behind the largest cannabis importation seen in the Northern Territory has been sentenced to nine years behind bars.
- Guiseppe Romeo was arrested in 2018 after two NT associates gave details to police
- He has already served years in jail for drug-related offences
- Two associates have already been sentenced to five years in jail
Guiseppe Romeo, 65, admitted to being the mastermind behind a $1.8 million drug distribution ring that saw around 300 kilograms of cannabis transported from South Australia to Darwin between 2016 and 2018.
The ring included multiple Darwin-based distributors, a group of others in South Australia who cultivated the drugs and Romeo, who the prosecution said was responsible for organising the distribution of the drugs and collecting the proceeds.
Two of Romeo’s Darwin-based associates, James Weston and another man who cannot be identified, gave details to police after their arrests and have since been sentenced to five years in jail.
“Your role was much more serious than theirs, you were a partner in the syndicate that grew the cannabis,” said Justice Judith Kelly in sentencing.
“This is the largest amount of cannabis to be brought into the Northern Territory to date.”
Darwin Supreme Court heard Romeo had numerous prior convictions in South Australia and New South Wales, including serving a three-year jail sentence for trafficking heroin and a seven-year sentence after he was found guilty of possessing tools used to cultivate cannabis in 1991.
Cannabis is one of the most popular recreational drugs in Australia. (Robert Galbraith, file photo: Reuters)
“You don’t come before the court as a person of good character,” Justice Kelly said.
The court also heard Romeo received a pension from 2009 to 2017 as he cared for his aging parents full-time, part of which time he was running the “large-scale drug-dealing enterprise.”
“This is an extremely serious offence, cannabis does a lot of damage here and in Aboriginal communities,” Justice Kelly told the court.
Prosecutor David Morters said Romeo was a “career criminal” and argued he should receive the maximum penalty of 14 years behind bars due to his history of offending and seriousness of the charge.
“This is a big business that only ended when he was caught and he only ended up being made accountable because he was arrested on a warrant in South Australia,” Mr Morters said.
“We’re talking about in excess of 300 kilograms and $1.8 million back to South Australia.
“That quantity of cannabis, how could anyone really know whether it’s going to Aboriginal communities, children, people with mental health issues.”
Romeo was sentenced to nine years in jail, with a six year and four month non-parole period.
Justice Judith Kelly made a recommendation that Romeo serve his sentence in South Australia.
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