On 22 November 2016, Rayan Schanker was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment in the County Court in Melbourne for attempting to possess a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported methamphetamine (5.9kg), and with trafficking a commercial quantity (a further 1.8kg) of the substance.
The street value of the imported drugs was $7.426 million, and the trafficked drugs $2.358 million. The purity of the drugs was also high and around 80 per cent.
In October 2014, officers of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service intercepted two consignments of bicycle parts sent from China, where methamphetamine was concealed in the bicycle seats. The consignor and consignee details on the parcels were determined by police to be false names. Following a controlled delivery by the Australian Federal Police, Schanker was caught on CCTV collecting the bicycle parts, with another man, from a storage facility in Melbourne, and some of these were later found at his home.
A note was found in a concealed area under the drivers’ seat of his car, which contained the false consignee name and consignment details. The trial Judge observed that this was damning evidence as it pointed to the extended involvement of Schanker in relation to the imported drugs.
Schanker was separately charged with trafficking in a commercial quantity of methamphetamine (1.888 kg), which was found in a safe at a property registered in his name.
When he was arrested, Schanker was found to be jointly in possession of around 400 grams of pure methamphetamine (not alleged as part of these charges) and a phone, which police had intercepted and heard Schanker discussing trafficking drugs with another man.
At his first trial on 25 July 2016, which dealt with the attempted possession charges, Schanker claimed that the lessor of the storage unit was responsible for the drugs and that he was only helping him move what he thought were bicycle parts. He also said the other man had borrowed his car regularly after the parcels were collected and must have been responsible for putting the consignment paper under the driver’s seat.
On 4 August 2016, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty.
The second trial for trafficking saw Schanker arraigned on Monday 8 August. The charge of possession for sale stemmed from 1,888.6 grams of pure methamphetamine that were found in a safe belonging to Schanker. Following the verdict from the first trial, Schanker decided to plead guilty.
Two other smaller amounts of methamphetamine; 402.2 grams located in car Schanker was driving when arrested, and 15.4 grams in another vehicle; were not included in the two charges, but formed part of the broader circumstantial facts considered by His Honour in sentencing.
After a plea hearing, His Honour Judge Stuart sentenced Schanker to 18 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14 years.
Charge / Sentence
Following a late guilty plea, prior to the commencement of second trial, Schanker was sentenced on 22 November 2016 to a total of 18 years’ imprisonment, in relation to:
- 1 charge of Attempt to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug contrary to subsection 11.1(1) and 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code.
- 1 charge of Traffick a commercial quantity of a controlled drug contrary to subsection 302.2(1) of the Criminal Code.
When it came to sentencing, deterrence was the paramount factor for his Honour Judge Stuart, and his Honour observed the sentence also needed to reflect just punishment and denunciation.
The offending was very serious for a number of reasons:
- The respective maximum penalties for each charge are life imprisonment.
- Each charge reflected multiples of commercial quantities.
- Schanker was a principal in the offending, motivated by greed and involved both in the process of importing and trafficking.
- The offending occurred over a period that gave the offender time to reflect on his conduct but he continued regardless.
- Schanker had prior convictions for dishonesty offences and had served approximately 12 months’ imprisonment prior to this offending. In addition, he had a prior conviction related to passport fraud, for which he had been sentenced to a Community Correction Order in May 2014. Despite these sentences, Schanker’s offending had continued and escalated in seriousness.