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  1. #1
    FarangRed
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    Drug Cops Jail Tourist Over Tea In Luggage

    9:28am UK, Friday March 19, 2010
    Ian Woods, Australia correspondent
    A tourist in Australia who spent six days in jail on drugs charges has been released after police admitted she had nothing more than lemon-flavoured iced tea in her possession.


    Maria Silva had three packets of Nestea iced tea weighing around 2kg


    Twenty-nine-year-old Maria Silva was detained after flying to Melbourne from the Philippines last Saturday


    A drug detection dog alerted Customs and Border Protection officers to the presence of drugs in her luggage, and initial tests indicated a positive result for amphetamines.


    She had three packets of Nestea iced tea weighing around 2kg.
    If convicted of importing a commercial quantity of the drug, she faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail.


    Ms Silva, a wedding planner, broke down in tears when she was remanded in custody.


    She maintained her innocence, and on Thursday, while her solicitor prepared to make an application for bail, the police admitted they had made a mistake, after further tests on the iced tea had confirmed Ms Silva's story.


    The Melbourne Age reported that her barrister, Michael Pena-Rees, told the court she had bought the tea randomly before departure at her boyfriend's request.


    Prosecutor Megan Lawler-Cooper said that after the three positive tests, and given some ''unusual'' aspects of her travel arrangements, there had been a proper basis for charging her.
    The magistrate said the police had acted appropriately but awarded $5,000 (3,000) costs against them.


    A police spokesman said the incident was "regrettable", but said they had dropped the charges as soon as tests revealed the mistake.

  2. #2
    Mid
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    Prosecutor Megan Lawler-Cooper said that after the three positive tests, and given some ''unusual'' aspects of her travel arrangements, there had been a proper basis for charging her.

    The magistrate said the police had acted appropriately but awarded $5,000 (3,000) costs against them.

    A police spokesman said the incident was "regrettable", but said they had dropped the charges as soon as tests revealed the mistake.

    wot a load of , hope she appeals and goes for false arrest and imprisonment .


    .

  3. #3
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    after 3 positive tests ? looks like a lot of people will have a get out of jail free card.

  4. #4
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    $5000 is not enough compensation. If Australia does not provide better legal recourse than this against police misconduct, something needs to change.

  5. #5
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed
    she had bought the tea randomly before departure at her boyfriend's request.
    Whatever the heck for?

    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed
    Prosecutor Megan Lawler-Cooper said that after the three positive tests, and given some ''unusual'' aspects of her travel arrangements, there had been a proper basis for charging her.
    I don't understand this . . . the dog sniffed it out. Three tests proved that they were drugs . . .

    . . . and then they weren't?


    Sounds very weird to me.

    Poor woman, though, shows how little power we have when confronted with the inadequacies of the state. At least she got off relatively soon and received some compensation, unlike other countries

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    than this against police misconduct,
    woooah, some hyperbole there.

    In what way did the police act inappropriately ?

    Three positive tests, doesnt equal police misconduct, it just means the tests were flawed.

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    Three tests and then what?
    I know, a brew up.

    Bit strange though.

  8. #8
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    Crikey what an awful experience that must be for the wedding planner.

    Goes to show you can't be too careful with what you buy and bring with you.

  9. #9
    FarangRed
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    That was what I meant something so innocent you buy off the shelf look how it turned into a nightmare, best to buy nothing.
    Although one time one of them dogs had a sniff at my bag while standing in a line and I got pulled over and the guy said that the dog paided particular attention to my bag, do you mind if we have a look he said, what choice do I have I guess none.

  10. #10
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    compensation
    I think you will find that it was not compensation - just the govt to pay court costs - though unsure if it included the defence barrister costs

    wonder if this fcuk up will make the reality tv customs show

  11. #11
    FarangRed
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    Would she have any grounds to sue the company that made the tea? after three positive test and what about the kvnt who did the test was it the same person I wonder

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    than this against police misconduct,
    woooah, some hyperbole there.

    In what way did the police act inappropriately ?

    Three positive tests, doesnt equal police misconduct, it just means the tests were flawed.
    Maybe police incompetence in that case.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    than this against police misconduct,
    woooah, some hyperbole there.

    In what way did the police act inappropriately ?

    Three positive tests, doesnt equal police misconduct, it just means the tests were flawed.
    Maybe police incompetence in that case.
    Incompetence or misconduct are similar in this case, the truth is that police are generally lowly educated people of mediocre mentality who have inflated egos and inflated beliefs of self-importance. They have no business conducting complex scientific tests they barely understand, and causing harm to someone by performing such a test incompetently is misconduct. Either way she should be entitled to massive compensation for her trauma stress and violations of her rights. Other defendants in her lawsuit may include the company that made the police test kits, and any other entity that was involved. Additionally, if they were not sure she had drugs, did they really need to arrest her? Perhaps a more reasonable approach would have been to simply take her passport and defer an arrest pending the results of testing by a qualified chemist.

    It's also worth considering that someone who smuggles drugs is not nearly as much of a danger to society as some who smuggles explosives, so perhaps the police should have less discretion when dealing with possible drugs. Police litigation was one of my areas of concentration when I was an attorney.

    In any event, steps should be taken to assure no one else ever has to endure this mistreatment.

  14. #14
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    Incompetence or misconduct are similar in this case
    I'd beg to differ, BobR. They're not.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    They have no business conducting complex scientific tests
    I don't think the cops would have done the testing, rather a qualified lab

    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    Perhaps a more reasonable approach would have been to simply take her passport and defer an arrest pending the results of testing by a qualified chemist.
    Can't if she's been charged or is on remand. Again, I'm certain a police lab would have done the tests and using a chemist simply isn't on.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    It's also worth considering that someone who smuggles drugs is not nearly as much of a danger to society as some who smuggles explosives, so perhaps the police should have less discretion when dealing with possible drugs.
    That's very subjective . . . as both are illegal they should both be dealt with accordingly. Drug runners cause greater harm to people than explosives smugglers

    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    In any event, steps should be taken to assure no one else ever has to endure this mistreatment.
    I agree . . . and I still don't understand how the dog and three tests could have shown the stuff to be drugs

  15. #15
    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by panama hat
    I don't think the cops would have done the testing, rather a qualified lab
    never seen Boarder Security the TV show ?

    Cops / customs officiers use standard tests , chemical and a machine .

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed
    A drug detection dog
    slay the foul beast !

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed
    initial tests indicated a positive result for amphetamines.
    tests on the tea or on the girl ? I don't understand how can tea be positive to amphetamines, while many Phil girls obcasionally smoke shabu , and their blood stays positive to the test for months after last smoking.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    Incompetence or misconduct are similar in this case, the truth is that police are generally lowly educated people of mediocre mentality who have inflated egos and inflated beliefs of self-importance
    Quite unlike attorneys then!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarangRed View Post
    That was what I meant something so innocent you buy off the shelf look how it turned into a nightmare, best to buy nothing.
    Although one time one of them dogs had a sniff at my bag while standing in a line and I got pulled over and the guy said that the dog paided particular attention to my bag, do you mind if we have a look he said, what choice do I have I guess none.

    I once had a Customs dog jump up onto my person whist he sniffed and when I complained to the Customs handler re assault, he just smiled.

    On another occasion, whilst returning to my native Australia, I was asked by the officer who I had been with or associated with whilst I was overseas. I began with the airline attendant, though could not recall her name, and was stopped when I could not recall the name of all the taxi drivers, shop assistants, restaurant workers, bank tellers, hotel workers including maids, etc etc etc.

    These days I dont not have to suffer stupid questioning from officious Australian Customs officers as I have a passport with a chip and just go straight through to either the red gate or green gate, where they either search my luggage or otherwise scan it and then I pass.

    It would be fair to say however, that Australian Customs in particular are an inept lot. One only needs to see the amount of drugs which obviously passes through undetected into Australia to see that their methods are totally inadequate which of course puts us all at risk.

    Try and tell them that. Good luck.


  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelmate
    Goes to show you can't be too careful with what you buy and bring with you.
    Yeah, better travel stark naked , hell knows if any garment might smell drug to some foul beast and its obtuse law enforcers.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by English Noodles View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    than this against police misconduct,
    woooah, some hyperbole there.

    In what way did the police act inappropriately ?

    Three positive tests, doesnt equal police misconduct, it just means the tests were flawed.
    Maybe police incompetence in that case.
    Incompetence or misconduct are similar in this case, the truth is that police are generally lowly educated people of mediocre mentality who have inflated egos and inflated beliefs of self-importance. They have no business conducting complex scientific tests they barely understand, and causing harm to someone by performing such a test incompetently is misconduct. Either way she should be entitled to massive compensation for her trauma stress and violations of her rights. Other defendants in her lawsuit may include the company that made the police test kits, and any other entity that was involved. Additionally, if they were not sure she had drugs, did they really need to arrest her? Perhaps a more reasonable approach would have been to simply take her passport and defer an arrest pending the results of testing by a qualified chemist.

    It's also worth considering that someone who smuggles drugs is not nearly as much of a danger to society as some who smuggles explosives, so perhaps the police should have less discretion when dealing with possible drugs. Police litigation was one of my areas of concentration when I was an attorney.

    In any event, steps should be taken to assure no one else ever has to endure this mistreatment.
    Maybe these lowly educated people were as guilty as you were, you misread the OP, no mention on compensation, maybe they misread the test results.........

  22. #22
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    Further to my previous post, when I made complaint regarding the un-necessary treatment of me and the questioning by Australian Customs to the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office, my complaint was upheld and I was offered by way of compensation or at least in an effort to ameliorate the situation, a guided tour of the International Airport by Australian Customs Service. I kid you not!

    I challenged the legal legitimacy of the right of Australian Customs to ask questions at the boarder that had no hope of being answered by any person. The questions were, in all unreasonable. Now people have a legal obligation to answer questions on an Arrival Card, but beyond that there is no legal obligation upon any Australian citizen to answer any other questions. People are of course not told this.

    In regard to this matter, I suspect that the bag in question, in which the tea was being carried, did in fact test positive to Meth amphetamine. This is not unusual. Tests of baggage often prove positive for a range of substances, including cocaine, cannabis, meth amphetamine and other drugs. This is not an arrestable "event" however allows the Customs Officer to make a further search which may include a "body search" or an x-ray of the person in order to see if they are carrying internally any drugs or other things unlawful. This in law, Customs are allowed to do.

    So the mere fact that a positive "swab" is returned, does not in itself mean you will be arrested and charged with an offence.

    There are holes in this story and I would suggest the entire story is not being told here. I can not believe that a person would be arrested for carrying tea, without some other reason to detain - which of course is another word for arrest.

    If the person was arrested or otherwise "detained", Australian Customs would need a lawful reason to detain this person. If the reason was not lawful, the matter could be put before a judge by way of legal action by the person detained, seeking compensation for deprivation of liberty if not other things.

    I think the fact that she received a payment, suggests that Customs perhaps were seeking to avoid legal action. In any event, I would certainly take legal advice on the matter and in the event that the legal advice was that Customs had indeed exceeded their authority or in some other way acted unlawfully, I would sue the Commonwealth.

    Sadly, this is about the only way one can get the Australian authorities to behave themselves at times.

  23. #23
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    I see a civil case 'brewing'. (sorry about the bad pun)
    A few thousand dollars may be the court's award but I'm sure more will come of this.

  24. #24
    FarangRed
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    Best get the kettle on then?

  25. #25
    FarangRed
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    The AFP and Customs and Border Protection last night said the incident was ''regrettable'' but it had acted immediately after full testing to drop the charges.

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