Granny may go to jail over drug money
A GRANDMOTHER who offers her time as a volunteer is facing jail time for "holding on to" money suspected to be proceeds of drug sales from an interstate syndicate headed by her partner of 18 years.
Shirley May Nelson, 63, pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday to one charge of possession of property suspected to be the proceeds of crime.
Police prosecutor Shayne Studdert said Nelson was with her partner and alleged head of the interstate drug syndicate, Colin John Underwood, when they were intercepted at Banana on December 17 with a bag containing $16,450.
The prosecutor said Underwood was one of five people police alleged ran the interstate syndicate bringing marijuana from Victoria and distributing it in Central Queensland.
The court heard Nelson had no criminal history.
Defence lawyer Samantha Legrady said Nelson, a volunteer for 30 hours a fortnight at Rockhampton's Heritage Village, was asked to hold on to the money by her son.
She said Nelson, a mother of five, thought the money was from items her son had legally sold prior to the intercept.
Ms Legrady said Nelson, who looked after her grandchildren when not volunteering, had requested to see a brief of the evidence because she was confused about the charge.
She said Nelson now conceded it was likely the money was the proceeds of drugs.
Magistrate Jeff Clarke did not accept the defendant's story, which indicated she had "turned a blind eye to illegal activity" due to the substantial amount of money in the bag.
"I'm worried about whether she is going to prison or not," Mr Clarke said before adjourning the matter until Friday, when "comparable cases" would be put to the court.
"It just sounds like rubbish to me.
"It's a very serious matter.
"It should be completely discouraged.
"How is a fine to act as a deterrence?"
Nelson's bail was extended until her sentencing on Friday.