Ugo Parente was employed by a criminal law firm in Liverpool shortly after being admitted as a New South Wales lawyer in 2006.
He represented clients in a range of criminal cases and was a vocal anti-drug campaigner. He was even commended by the prime minister for his commitment to initiatives against illicit drug use.
Mr Parente excelled in the practise of the law, and was described by his former employer as a ‘diligent and competent lawyer’.
Charged with drug offences
But Parente’s world came tumbling down on 26 June 2015, when he was pulled over for a random breath test in Eastlakes.
During the stop, police claimed to have formed a suspicion on reasonable grounds that Parente was in the possession of prohibited drugs, and performed a vehicle search on that basis.
The search uncovered 100 MDMA (or ‘ecstacy’) pills and a litre of GHB; which is commonly known as ‘liquid ecstacy’.
Police arrested the lawyer and performed a search at his home, during which further drugs were located.
The 33-year old was then charged with a range of drug offences, including:
- Supplying more than a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug;
- Supplying more than an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug;
- Supplying a prohibited drug (two counts);
- Possessing a prohibited drug; and
- Goods in custody reasonably suspected of being stolen.
He pleaded guilty in 2016 to three drug supply charges and was sentenced to a total of four years in prison.
The Council of the Law Society of NSW sought to have Mr Parente removed from the roll of legal practitioners, with a view preventing him from practising in the law.
However, the lawyer did not take the decision lying down and fought to keep his practising certificate.
The case went all the way to the NSW Court of Appeal, where Justice Paul Brereton ordered Parente’s removal from the roll on the basis that he is not a ‘fit and proper person’ to practise law.
The judge expressed some sympathy towards Parente, noting that a range of factors contributed to his decision to become involved with drugs, including work pressures and a relationship breakdown.
His Honour said the lawyer’s slide was signified by ‘depression, experimentation with and then addiction to the drugs he had so despised, and finally to engaging in small scale dealing to sustain his habit’.
The judge made clear that the decision to remove Parente from the roll was not a ‘conclusion’ that ‘should be regarded as foreclosing’ any future application for readmission, provided he turns his life around.
What are the penalties for drug supply?
Supplying a prohibited drug is an offence under section 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).
The applicable penalties depend upon:
- The type of drug supplied,
- The quantity of the drug, and
- Whether the case is finalised in the Local Court or a higher court, such as the District Court.
The table below lists the applicable maximum penalties in New South Wales.
|Where the amount is…
|The maximum penalty will be…
|Not more than a small quantity
|<0.25g of MDMA/ecstasy<1g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<30g of cannabis
|2 years imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine if your matter is finalised in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine if it is finalised in a higher court.
|Not more than an indictable quantity
|<1.25g of MDMA/ecstasy<5g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<1kg of cannabis
|2 years imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine if your matter is finalised in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine if your matter is finalised in a higher court.
|Not more than a commercial quantity
|<125g of MDMA/ecstasy<250g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<25kg of cannabis
|2 years imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine if your matter is finalised in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.
|Not more than a large commercial quantity
More than the large commercial quantity
|<500g of MDMA<1kg of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<100kg of cannabis
>500g of MDMA>1kg of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin>100kg of cannabis
|20 years imprisonment and/or a $385,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.
Life imprisonment and/or $550,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.
Going to court for drug supply?
If you have been charged with drug supply, contact Sydney Criminal Lawyers today to arrange a free first conference with an experienced drug defence lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options and the best way forward.
We have successfully defended clients in all types of drug supply cases, from supplying a small quantity to large commercial supply.