Canadian jailed over cruise ship drug scheme

Melina Roberge, a Canadian who plead guilty to trafficking 29kg of cocaine into Australia and helping to disguise the smuggling operation as a luxury island cruise, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Melina Roberge, 24, was one of three Canadians who pleaded guilty to the import of 95kg  of drugs on the MS Sea Princess.

Roberge had pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of cocaine.

Roberge had agreed to pose as a tourist on the trip in exchange for money, a court heard.

A judge said she was also motivated by the chance to post “glamorous” travel photos on social media.

Australian police discovered A$21m (£12m; $16m) of cocaine in cabins on the ship in August 2016 after it docked in Sydney following a trip around the world.

Roberge’s cabin mate, 29-year-old Isabelle Lagacé, was jailed in November for seven-and-a-half years.

Andre Tamine, 64, is still to face sentencing over his role in the operation.

Authorities have described the drug seizure as the largest Australia has ever had on a commercial boat or plane.

On Wednesday, New South Wales District Court Judge Kate Traill said she accepted that Roberge was genuinely remorseful and had a good chance of rehabilitation.

But the judge criticised Roberge’s “vacuous” decision-making, saying she had been influenced by seeking validation online.

Judge Traill said, “She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world.”

“She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.”

The judge said the case highlighted the negative influence that social media could have on young people.