Honesty the best policy? Candid drug dealer may disagree

Andrew Noel Hensleigh Norris, 52, leaving Maroochydore courthouse after the marijuana trafficking conviction last year.
Andrew Noel Hensleigh Norris, 52, leaving Maroochydore courthouse after the marijuana trafficking conviction last year. Stuart Cumming

AN UPFRONT New Zealand-born drug dealer's sentence smells fishy, the Attorney-General's office has argued.

Andrew Noel Hensleigh Norris made tens of thousands of dollars selling marijuana during a four-year dealing blitz.

But any hopes of jailing or kicking him out the country went up in smoke when a Maroochydore judge suspended his jail sentence.

Norris was so candid, prosecutor Michael Gawrych last year admitted the Crown would have struggled to pursue a trafficking charge if Norris had not made admissions.

At Queensland Court of Appeal on Tuesday, a major gripe of the Attorney-General's office seemed to pivot on the notion even one day of jail would have made Norris eligible for deportation.

Norris was a New Zealand citizen who moved to Australia as a child.

And "it seems nothing was done about his citizenship status in the meantime,” barrister for the Attorney-General Michael Byrne said.

"Had it been so much as just one day of that head sentence to be served” then a part of the Migration Act dealing with visa cancellations would have operated, Mr Byrne said.

There was no complaint about the head sentence itself.

The appeal argued the sentence Norris got from Judge Gary Young wrongly took into account the deportation prospects when determining a penalty.

Mr Byrne said generally if a visa is cancelled a person "is ordinarily taken into immigration detention” and then potentially removed from the country.

Appeal Court President Justice Walter Sofronoff suggested it was normal for courts to take into account as mitigating factors the consequences of convictions - such as loss of livelihood or deportation.

Norris's counsel John Allen said his client had already made efforts to rehabilitate.

he said Judge Young "specifically disavowed taking into account the prospect of deportation”.

He said Norris was being a "useful member of his community” in paid and unpaid employment.

The court reserved its decision.


Topics:  andrew noel hensleigh norris attorney-general ganja john allen judge gary young marijuana maroochydore michael byrne qc new zealand queensland court of appeal

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