Thirty-year-old Paea Langiofu Talakai (left) shakes hands with his lawyer Peter Woodhouse after avoiding a prison sentence for hiding drugs while in jail. Photo: Albert McKnight.
The fact a Comanchero tried to hide several types of drugs from prison guards by putting them inside his own rectum must be embarrassing for him, a magistrate has told a Canberra court.
Magistrate James Stewart also noted it would have been “highly unpleasant” for the prison staff who had to remove the illicit items from inside Paea Langiofu Talakai’s body when he sentenced the 30-year-old in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (18 October).
“What he did was very unwise and dangerous to himself and others,” he said.
According to court documents, when Talakai was at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, he was seen acting nervously during visitation time on 16 September 2018, frantically pacing back and forth for about half an hour.
When visitation finished and all detainees were being searched, he appeared to push something inside his groin, so he was taken for a strip search.
Staff told the very tall detainee they thought he was hiding an object in his rectum. He became aggressive, tried to resist them and also tried to push the item further inside his body.
As he wouldn’t remove it himself, staff had to extract it instead. The court documents describe the item they found as “a white plastic rubber ball about 10 centimetres in diameter and appeared to be tied at one end”.
The ball contained about 3.5 grams of methylamphetamine, 2 grams of cannabis and one gram of buprenorphine, a prescription drug.
He was eventually released from custody before coming back to the Magistrates Court for sentencing over hiding the drugs. Defence lawyer Peter Woodhouse of Aulich noted the 10 cm ball was actually 10 cm in length, not diameter.
“A ball 10 cm in diameter would be quite difficult to conceal in the way that Mr Tulakai concealed it,” he said.
He said his client wanted to return to Queensland, where he plays rugby league and is a church leader living in Logan, but had only bought a one-way ticket to Canberra because he was aware of the risk of being sent to jail.
Magistrate Stewart was concerned that a court report said he was a full member of the Queensland Comancheros, but Mr Woodhouse said his client’s level of activity in the organisation was “limited”.
Prosecutor Lauren Knobel said Tulakai had gone to a “significant effort to conceal the items he knew were prohibited”.
She said this type of offence was relatively common in custody and a strong message had to be sent.
Tulakai pleaded guilty to possessing the prohibited items of methylamphetamine, cannabis and buprenorphine as a detainee.
He was sentenced to 48 days’ jail, fully suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order.