Australia

Canadian Melina Roberge jailed over cruise ship drug scheme

Melina Roberge and Isabelle Lagacé before they were arrested Image copyright Instagram/Mélina Roberge
Image caption Melina Roberge (left) with Isabelle Lagacé, who was jailed last year

A Canadian woman who helped smuggle cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship has been jailed for eight years.

Melina Roberge, 24, was one of three Canadians who pleaded guilty to the import of 95kg (210lb) of drugs on the MS Sea Princess.

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.

'Seduced by lifestyle'

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.

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

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

Image copyright Australian Border Force
Image caption Australian authorities seized 95kg (210lb) of drugs

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

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