24 July 2022

Sentence for single mother who ordered illegal drugs on the dark web

| Claire Fenwicke
Coat of Arms on court building

Vanessa White was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A Hughes mother has avoided further jail time after importing a border-controlled drug that carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Now 49-year-old Vanessa Lee White was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (18 July) for ordering more than a kilogram of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) to her home last year.

Ms White had used a variety of cryptocurrency websites to pay a UK-based dark web seller for the drug, which was posted as “phone cleanser”.

Police intercepted the package and replaced it with an “inert substance” before an AFP officer posing as an Australia Post employee delivered it to Ms White’s home on 8 July 2021.

A surveillance device had also been placed inside the package, which recorded Ms White saying “woo, f*** yeah” when she received the delivery. She was arrested shortly afterwards and her home was searched.

Police seized the package along with a blue diary, phone, laptop and attached USB.

The pure weight of the GBL amounted to 1,040.6 grams, with an average purity of about 92 per cent. It was worth about $11,000, which amounted to “hundreds of deals”.

Ms White was denied bail when first arrested and eventually pleaded guilty.

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During sentencing, Justice John Mossop noted Ms White had a limited criminal history.

“Phone intercepts showed you had financial difficulties during the offending,” he said.

Justice Mossop said while Ms White was responsible for “each step” in the importation process, it amounted to a “simple internet purchase” and categorised the seriousness of her offending as “low-end”.

While she had a history of meth addiction and drug use, Justice Mossop noted Ms White had quit using about five years ago and all mandated tests while she was in custody were negative.

He also said she had been “motivated” by her ex-partner’s drug addiction and the financial gain she would have received if her crime had been successful.

However, her ex-partner was now in prison due to offences against her, which Justice Mossop said freed her from his “malign influence” and, as a consequence, she had since been “crime free”.

Justice Mossop noted importing a border-controlled drug carried a maximum penalty of life in prison, which reflected the “gravity of the offending”.

However, her commendable behaviour in prison, and assessments she was suitable for alternative punishment to jail, led Justice Mossop to impose a sentence of 33 months to be served as a two-year good behaviour bond.

Ms White had served 288 days in custody.

Upon delivering his sentence, Justice Mossop warned Ms White that if she committed any offences under the good behaviour bond, she could again face penalties related to the importation offence.

“It’s very important you keep out of trouble for two years,” he said.

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GBL is a precursor to GHB, and both have been known as G, liquid ecstasy and blue nitro.

At the time, ACT Policing Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Scott Moller said the drug was often used in rapes and “predominately on unsuspecting victims”.

“The other thing with GBL is it’s predominately mixed with alcohol [and] used in ‘date rape’ scenarios,” he said.

“But getting the combination right is extremely important. If you get it wrong, just by the smallest amount, it can have lethal consequences.”

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