Drone flew drugs over border in pandemic

Up and over: A woman has faced court for her part in using a drone to fly drugs across the river at Echuca-Moama. Photo by Submitted

A woman has been spared jail for her role in the use of a drone to transport drugs over the Murray River at Echuca-Moama to evade COVID-19 border closures.

The drone was flown from Moama, across the river to Victoria, on September 3, 2020, to a man who had driven up from Melbourne to conduct the transaction.

He attached 336 grams of methylamphetamine to the drone, which was flown back to Moama in a bid to avoid road crossings controlled by NSW police due to COVID-related border closures.

Brooke Dee Mott, 32, of Deniliquin, pleaded guilty to knowingly taking part in the supply of a prohibited drug, not less than the commercial quantity, and asked the judge to take into account other drug offences.

In the NSW District Court sitting in Albury, Judge Sean Grant sentenced her to a two-year jail term to be served by way of an Intensive Correction Order.

Conditions include her performing 250 hours of community service work.

According to the agreed facts, Mott and two men were in a car driven to Moama.

One man, who was on L-plates, was behind the wheel while Mott was his supervisor, being the only fully licensed driver in the car.

The men then moved further down the river, flew a drone across it to the Melbourne man, who attached the drugs to the drone, which was then flown back.

"The prohibited drugs were acquired in order to supply the drugs for profit," the judge said.

Mott then took part in seven supply transactions by weighing and preparing methylamphetamine for supply, while police later seized cash obtained through the sales.

Assessing the objective gravity of Mott's offending, the judge said she was the only licensed driver in the car.

"However, she remained in the car while the transaction took place," he said.

"The Crown concedes that her role was less significant, but that the supply could not have taken place without her participation, as they could not have lawfully driven to the location where the transaction took place without her."

But her barrister submitted the driver would have been able to find an alternative means to travel to the location.

"I accept that her involvement was more convenient than it was critically necessary," the judge said.

He noted her relatively sparse criminal history and her long-term ice addition, accepting she was genuinely remorseful and contrite.