Grieving grandson’s botched drug import caper


WITH a dinghy, no food and enough fuel to be stranded at sea, Jeffrey Guligo hatched a plan to help pay for his grandmother's funeral even if he had to smuggle cannabis to do so.

Cairns District Court heard that Guligo, 37, of the Torres Strait, travelled to Papua New Guinea in November 2018 in an effort to contribute to the family expenses.

"He wanted to make some money to do that," Judge Tracy Fantin said.

Guligo paid between $300 and $400 for three kg of cannabis in PNG, hoping to make his money back tenfold once he had landed in the Torres Strait Islands north of Cape York.

He did not get further than Badu Island.

Guligo motored his dingy from PNG to the Straits with three other men, bribed with cannabis to help in his money making endeavour.

The boat got as far as Moa Island - about 90km from Saibai Island off the southern end of PNG - and bartered more cannabis for 15L of fuel.

Guligo travelled to Badu and, his stock of cannabis thinning fast, he exchanged more of the drug for some food before sleeping in a house on the island.

Police came knocking soon after and he explained his dinghy driven import operation.

"You gave police a great deal of detail," Judge Fantin said.

"But for that detail, police would have not been able to charge you with importation."

The court heard Guligo was not new to this caper.

"It was committed for financial gain, you had committed this before,: Judge Fantin said.

"It is a particularly harmful drug in remote communities and detection in the Torres Strait is difficult given the remote area."

Guligo pleaded guilty to a commonwealth charge of importing cannabis, and a state charge of assaulting a prison officer at Lotus Glen while he was on remand.

The defendant had spat on the prison guard, frustrated he was not able to work in the tailor shop.

Judge Fantin called the assault "a gross over reaction to something so trivial."

"It was a disgusting act; spitting on people in public office must be punished by imprisonment," she said.

She sentenced Guligo, who had been in custody for 403 days, to time already served for the drug importation and six months for the assault.

He was released on parole and ordered to be of good behaviour for two years.

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