Auckland cocaine mules jailed
A young Auckland woman, who had never before been in trouble with the police, has been jailed after pleading guilty to being a domestic cocaine mule.
Samantha Margaret Gemmell, 27, and Adrian Marquiss Kemp, 31, each pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing cocaine for supply in the High Court at Auckland last month.
The public gallery of the High Court was packed this morning as Kemp and Gemmell, received prison terms of two years 10 months and two years six months respectively.
Justice John Priestley said Kemp and Gemmell's actions came through a "misguided sense of loyalty".
They were arrested after customs officials found 3.7 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a suitcase allegedly belonging to a Mexican national, who had flown to Auckland from Santiago, Chile, on December 13, 2011.
Justice Priestley outlined the pair's limited role in the holding and transportation of the drugs, which had a street value of at least $750,000, but said the courts needed to come down hard on large-scale drug offending.
Gemmell, who has worked as a chief stewardess on large ocean yachts, held on to the suitcase at the request of a former school friend and was initially told it only contained "a sample".
Kemp - a mast builder - only became involved when he was advised Gemmell was worried about holding on to the cocaine.
He took the drugs from her at a Mission Bay parking lot and transported them to Wellington where he handed them on to another associate.
Brendan Clarke, who then took the suitcase to Christchurch, was imprisoned earlier for four years eight months and a man further up the distribution chain - David Negrete-Nevarez was jailed for seven years for his role in the offending.
He highlighted Gemmell's previous clean record and acknowledged Kemp's handful of previous convictions did not involved drug offences.
The pair received glowing references from employers and associates but the judge said a community-based sentence was out of the question.
"Home detention would be indefensible given the size of the cocaine importation and your crucial links in the distribution chain."
He described the sentence as "merciful and arguably too low", after knocking 60 per cent from the original starting point.
Gemmell received a further discount of four months because of her fragile mental state and Justice Priestley made a recommendation for prison staff to monitor her closely.
She cried as she was led away and waved at family members who also left the court in tears.