Mother (55) is jailed for drug smuggling

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Penelope Turmel, who has 40 previous convictions, arranged for 9,000 tablets of the class C drug Diazepam to be imported into Jersey over the course of a month.

The commercial quantity of tablets, which were hidden among empty chewing gum packets when they were imported and were due to be sold on the Jersey’s streets, were sent in three shipments to the Island.

Two of the packages were received by Brian James Le Monnier (59) and the other by 51-year-old Robert Emlyn Rees.

Yesterday the Royal Court jailed Turmel for 18 months, while Le Monnier was given 150 hours of community service and Rees was given a 120-hour community service order.

Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Sarah Hollywood told the court that on 12 March last year a Customs officer intercepted a suspicious package addressed to Rees which had been sent from Gokarn in India. Although it was labelled as containing soaps, candles and cosmetic products, the officer found 3,000 tablets of Diazepam surrounded by empty chewing gum packaging.

On 7 and 8 April Customs officers intercepted similar packages, this time both addressed to Le Monnier. They were again found to contain 3,000 tablets of Diazepam each and were packaged in the same way.

When the police later arrested the pair, both men said they had no idea as to why the packages were sent to them, or why their mobile numbers were listed on the labels.

The court heard that the police later found that Le Monnier and Rees had sent messages to Turmel’s Indian number asking what they should do with the packages. Turmel was arrested when she returned to Jersey from India.

Advocate Natalie Addis, defending Turmel, said that her client, who pleaded guilty to three counts of importing Diazepam, was suffering from depression and that she deeply regretted her decision to get involved with the drugs.

Advocate Adam Harrison, defending Le Monnier, said that the role of his client, who pleaded guilty to two counts of importing the class C drug, was limited to that of ‘minder’ and that he was not due to benefit financially from the importation.

Advocate Niall MacDonald, defending Rees, said that his client, who pleaded guilty to one count of drugs importation, was in the same position as Le Monnier and that the crime had been ‘relatively amateur’.

Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, presiding, said that because the roles of Le Monnier and Rees were minor, the court could justify giving non-custodial sentences.

However, he said that Turmel’s part was so great that she could not avoid jail.

‘Turmel was the organiser, she was close to the source of the drugs in India and was involved in all three of the importations,’ he said.

Jurats Collette Crill and Rozanne Thomas were sitting.

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