Karnup: Pair faces combined 28 years jail for smuggling meth in phone chargers from China

TWO men will spend 28 years behind bars between them for importing methamphetamine hidden in phone chargers from China to an address in Karnup.

Kevin Jerko Stipkovich (47) and Kriston John Scale (45) were convicted after a trial at the Supreme Court for attempting to possess an unlawfully imported commercial quantity of methamphetamine.

During the trial both men blamed each other with both saying they were innocent and had been duped by the other. The jury did not believe this and found them guilty.

Justice Joseph McGrath told the men at their sentencing on July 28 the maximum penalty was life imprisonment or a fine of $1.35 million.

He said the offence began on August 31, 2015 when a ship from Hong Kong arrived at Fremantle Port.

Australian Border Force officers examined a consignment from that ship on September 9, 2015.

The consignment contained six cardboard boxes wrapped in green hessian and yellow strapping, each containing approximately 300 mobile telephone chargers, totalling 1800 chargers.

It was addressed to Stipkovich’s home in Karnup and had come from an address in Guangzhou city in China.

Testing conducted on the packages returned a positive result for methamphetamine.

Australian Federal Police took over the investigation and found 9546.9g of methamphetamine concealed in the chargers.

They decided to reconstruct the package with an inert substance before sending it to the consignee’s address.

It was delivered to the Karnup address on September 16, 2015.

When it arrived both men in separate cars took the delivery to a bush location where they hid it beneath shrubbery.

They were observed by federal agents and later that afternoon both were arrested.

The methamphetamine had a pure weight of 7456.1g.

Police calculated that if it had been sold in one gram units it would have been worth about $8 million or about $11.5 million if sold in 0.1 gram units.

Justice McGrath said the pair had worked as a team and their roles were more than drug couriers.

“I do find that your roles were not merely that of courier or a mere bailee. I do though find that you are not, as the Crown have referred, some form of ‘Mr Big’,” he said.

“You are somewhere just above this courier or mere bailee. You acted as a team together. The facts illuminate your criminality, which in both your cases may be described as significant.”

“A paramount factor in sentencing is that of general deterrence. Personal deterrence is always a relevant factor. The sentence to be imposed must be of such severity that it acts to deter others from engaging in illicit drug importation or by assisting through attempting to take possession of illicit drugs imported. I must ensure that the sentence is an adequate punishment for your serious offending.

“The social consequences of illicit drug use, and in particular, methamphetamine within the Australian community, is immense.

“The illicit drug trade is a scourge that inflicts very significant damage on the people who consume the drugs and also the deleterious effects of that consumption extends to families, friends and associates of a consumer and society generally.

The men were sentenced to 14 years prison each with a non-parole period of 11 years.

He backdated their sentences to May 18, 2016 for Stipkovich and February 4, 2016 for Scale.