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Key decisions

  • Bott v R [2023] NSWCCA 255
  • Fear v R [2023] NSWCCA 238

Bott v R [2023] NSWCCA 255

Sentencing for drug matters – hierarchy of drugs – GBL versus other drugs

In this decision the Court of Criminal Appeal (‘CCA’) has held that, just because there is no hierarchy of the harm caused by drugs does not mean there is no value in comparing drugs against one another in terms of their expected value, provided there is evidence to support that proposition.

The applicant pleaded guilty to drug offences: one offence of knowingly taking part in the supply of 2.9 kg of methylamphetamine (and possession of another 14 g of that drug), and relevantly to this summary one offence of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, being gamma-butyrolactone (‘GBL’) which was reasonably suspected of being unlawfully imported. 755 kg of GBL was involved: twenty-five steel drums were imported into Australia from China, containing GBL with a purity of between 98.7 and 99.2 percent. The applicant rented a van, arranged a shipping container, bought additional drums and other items (presumably to get the GBL out of the original drums and into the new drums), and personally took possession of some of the drums. In the couple of hours between taking delivery and being arrested, he drained some of the liquid from one of the imported drums into the new drums he had bought. He was sentenced to a total of 12 years and 8 months, with a non-parole period of 8 years and 5 months. The indicative sentence for the GBL was 11 years and 3 months with a non-parole period of 7 years. He appealed on grounds including that the sentence for the GBL was manifestly excessive; this summary is limited to that aspect of the judgment.

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