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The accused entered a guilty plea to a charge of supplying a large commercial quantity of cocaine

The court’s imposition of a seven and a half year non-parole period was half the standard in a case where the maximum sentence for supply was life imprisonment

Judges sometimes struggle to strike a balance between adequate punishment for a serious offence and consideration of an offender’s generally good character. That struggle was at the heart of the sentencing in R v Robert Pavan [2009] NSWDC 82.

The offence of supplying a large commercial quantity of cocaine

Pavan entered a guilty plea to a charge of supplying a large commercial quantity of cocaine. The offence involved three separate transactions, each involving about one kilogram of cocaine. The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment with a standard non-parole period of 15 years.

Pavan’s role was that of an intermediary. He did not transfer the drug directly to buyers. Instead, he located buyers for a seller who was above him in the distribution chain. Pavan understood that the buyers would redistribute the drug. In other words, he helped the supplier find drug dealers who were in a position to buy large quantities.

Pavan became involved in the crime because he owed a significant sum of money to a cocaine supplier. The supplier suggested that Pavan could repay part of the debt by helping him sell a large quantity of cocaine. To that end, Pavan found a dealer who was interested in purchasing a kilogram of cocaine. He arranged the time and place of the transfer and was present when it occurred. He played similar roles in the other two transactions.

The court noted that Pavan’s conduct occurred over a relatively short time but nevertheless characterized it as “gravely criminal.” Pavan was a cocaine user at the time but he did not commit the crime to support his own drug habit. 

The offender

Pavan is sixty years old. His criminal record is dated and much less significant than the drug crime for which he faced sentencing.

Pavan took over the care of his three children when his first wife left. After his second wife left, his daughter’s marriage broke down and Pavan became involved in the care and support of his daughter’s children.

The court viewed Pavan’s dedication to his children and grandchildren as a testament to his character. The court also considered that Pavan’s prospect for rehabilitation was enhanced by the support he would receive from his family after his release from confinement. The court viewed Pavan as unlikely to reoffend.

The court accepted that Pavan felt remorse for facilitating the supply of drugs to the community. Pavan also felt genuine regret for the hardship his conduct brought upon his family.

Pavan was in custody from the date of his arrest to the date of sentencing. He caused no problems while in custody.

Sentence imposed

Pavan made some legal challenges to the charge rather than pleading guilty at the committal. He therefore did not receive a 25% sentencing discount that would generally apply to guilty pleas made at that stage. The court noted that a 15% discount is usually appropriate for pleas made at first arraignment. Deciding to split the difference, the court gave Pavan a 20% discount to reflect the utilitarian value of his plea.

The court concluded that Pavan’s crime was in the middle range of objective seriousness. The court was asked to find that special circumstances existed justifying a lenient sentence and the prosecution did not object. All parties agreed, however, that a significant period of imprisonment was warranted.

Pavan had been in custody for almost four years at the time of his sentencing. The court sentenced Pavan to twelve years, commencing on the date of his arrest. The court set a non-parole period of seven and a half years.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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