Gran narrowly avoids time in jail for holding drug proceeds

A GRANDMOTHER has narrowly avoided spending actual time in prison for her first ever criminal offence, which is linked to an interstate drug syndicate headed by her partner of 18 years.

Shirley May Nelson, 63, pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on Wednesday to one charge of possession of property suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

Her sentencing was adjourned until yesterday as Magistrate Jeff Clarke did not think a fine was a big enough deterrent for being in possession of $16,450 suspected of being proceeds of crime.

He ordered both police prosecution and the defence lawyer to provide comparable cases to help in determining a just sentence.

The maximum penalty for the charge is two years prison.

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.

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 which she was to give to her son.

She said Nelson, a mother of five, thought the money was from items her son had legally sold prior to the intercept.

Mr 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.

"It just sounds like rubbish to me," he said.

"It's a very serious matter."

He ordered Nelson to a six-month prison term, wholly suspended and operational for 18 months, with a conviction recorded.

Mr Clarke said he was going to sentence her to actual time in prison for two months, but changed his mind.

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