Tasmanian judges say no deal to drug trafficker appeal

A convicted drug trafficker has failed to convince the court his six-year jail sentence was unjust.

Sydney man Shadi Farhat, 40, was put behind bars earlier this year after he and his co-accused Mickheal Bechara, 39, were found guilty of trafficking ice and guns into Tasmania.

A police investigation into drug trafficking in the state led officers to Bechara and Farhat in 2013. 

The pair were arrested in September that year, after they were found in possession of unregistered firearms and about $152,000 cash at the Launceston Airport.

During their trial, the Launceston Supreme Court heard details of how Bechara had sourced ice from New South Wales and travelled regularly to Tasmania with Farhat to sell the drugs to a man in Launceston. 

Last week, the case was back before the Hobart Supreme Court with Farhat appealing his sentence on the basis his co-accused was given six-and-half years and is eligible for release after three years and nine months.

Farhat’s lawyer argued his sentence was only six months less and his non-parole period was three years, despite Bechara playing a more significant role in the crimes.

Sentencing both men in June, Justice Robert Pearce said a lesser sentence for Farhat was appropriate due to Bechara’s previous criminal record and greater involvement.

Farhat was also a registered informant with the New South Wales Police Force and is now in protective custody at Risdon Prison, which his lawyer said was putting him at risk.

But the appeal was dismissed on Tuesday by Chief Justice Alan Blow, Justice Stephen Estcourt and Acting Justice Shane Marshall.

Chief Justice Blow said in his judgment Farhat was “to some extent … subject to the direction and authority” of Bechara. But he said Farhat still “played a positive and independent role in the trafficking business and commonly acted independently”.

He said Bechara had taken steps “towards rehabilitation”.

“A report from the psychologist said that he had strong motivation to turn from his life of crime and follow societal rules, and described significant changes he had made to his life to achieve those goals.

“In my view, in the light of the steps taken by Bechara …and his plea of guilty, it could not be said that the appellant's sentence was so close to Mr Bechara's as to justify a sense of grievance.”