‘Benevolent matriarch’ handed record prison sentence
A CAIRNS wedding planner who peddled huge quantities of methylamphetamines from her Earlville granny flat for more than a year has been jailed for 12 years - the highest drug sentence in Far North history.
Narelle Malone, 47, was labelled a "benevolent matriarch" during her sentencing for drug trafficking in the Cairns Supreme Court today with the court hearing she would reward her "minions" with meth "8 balls" in exchange for work.
The long-time meth addict sourced her supply from a Brisbane dealer using a Westcourt post office box, with police intercepting a package there in July 2018 which contained almost 1kg of meth.
Crown prosecutor Eddie Coker said they estimated she turned over a profit of $300,000 and sold at least 8kg of meth during the 15 months she was operating the drug business between April 2017 and July 2018.
But the court heard she did not live the lavish lifestyle synonymous with some big time dealers, with the only major purchase made during the purchase a $38,000 2014 model SS Holden Commodore she paid for in cash.
She lived in a converted shed at the back of the Lissner Cres residence and one of her main customers was a woman living in the main house on the property with her young children.
"You were profiting from the offending of pumping a huge amount of methylamphetamines into the Cairns community," Justice Jim Henry said.
"There is not a lot of express evidence of leading an extravagant lifestyle (but) it's not always the case (trafficking drugs) you end up with a lot to show for it."
The court heard police secretly set up surveillance cameras and listening devices in her Bungalow wedding planning business, hearing conversations between her and customers over drug deals.
The court was told she was raided by police several times during the operation, where they collectively seized around $120,000 in cash hidden in "fake books", a wall cavity, a safe and behind a roller door.
The Far North's Major and Organised Crime Squad closed Operation Quebec Oscillate on July 18, 2017, charging 23 people on 276 offences.
The syndicate's alleged supplier, former Cairns man Lief Sharkey, 33, is currently before the court in Brisbane charged with trafficking, supply, exceed possession and money laundering and is yet to enter a plea.
Originally published as 'Benevolent matriarch' handed record prison sentence