A former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre youth justice officer has been jailed for more than a year after supplying drugs to an alleged syndicate kingpin and babysitting his business while he was on holidays.
In handing down his sentence in the NT’s Supreme Court on Monday, Chief Justice Michael Grant said Joel Appo, a 33-year-old man from Bundaberg who pleaded guilty to supplying a commercial amount of cannabis, was arrested in Darwin earlier this year after he sold cannabis to an undercover police officer on three separate occasions between December 2019 and January 2020.
He said police had been investigating a case of alleged money laundering and drug supply in Darwin for more than six months prior to the arrest, and found Appo had been working with a dealer running a “sophisticated” operation.
According to police, Appo had sourced drugs for the kingpin on a number of occasions, and minded the business while he was away on holiday.
Appo was arrested on March 28 of this year after ongoing police monitoring exposed him dealing the drugs to the leader.
At the time of the arrest, Appo was carrying 456g of cannabis.
Chief Justice Grant said more than 1.6kg of cannabis, two mobile phones, $16,100 in cash, financial records, electronic storage devices, a taser and other indications of drug supply were later found by police at Appo’s associate’s house.
He said the penalties reflect a “community understanding that the supply of cannabis causes significant harm in the community”.
The Chief Justice acknowledged Appo was not the principal of the syndicate, but asserted he was an “important cog at both ends of the operation”.
“Not only did you on two occasions source and procure cannabis as an intermediary for that associate, but you also maintained the retail end of his operation during his absences from Darwin.
“The supply operation appears to have been well-organised and relatively sophisticated and you were a part of it,” Justice Grant said.
The syndicate’s kingpin is yet to be sentenced, the court heard, but two others involved in the longstanding operation have been convicted.
Thomas Phelan, who was given $28,000 for trafficking 31.43kg of cannabis from Victoria to Darwin, is serving three years in prison.
And Appo’s cousin Adrian Davies is serving 18 months in jail for selling less than a commercial quantity of cannabis.
Appo was sentenced to one year and two months in prison followed by a one year and four months suspended sentence subject to supervision by Community Corrections.