Truth behind this Instagram pic
THE inside of an Australian jail cell is not what a glamorous Canadian tourist would have imagined when she embarked on a luxury-around-the-world cruise.
But that could be the reality for Melina Roberge, 23, who yesterday changed her plea to guilty for her role in the $21 million plan to smuggle cocaine into Australia on a cruise ship.
She and co-accused Andre Tamine, 64, initially denied involvement in the plot after they were caught by police with 95kg of cocaine when the Sea Princess docked in Sydney in August 2016. They changed their pleas after adult actor Isabelle Lagace, 28, was sentenced to seven years jail for her role in the drug smuggling scheme.
The maximum penalty for smuggling a commercial quantity of cocaine, a federal offence, is life imprisonment.
They both pleaded guilty to a charge of jointly commission the importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drug just days away from their expected trial.
Lagace and Roberge appeared to be close friends and filled their social media accounts with pictures that charted the cruise from the UK to South America, across the Pacific, and to Australia.
Legace's sentencing hearing last November heard she thought the trip would be "an easy job for easy money".
Lagace told the court she had agreed to smuggle the drugs to repay a $20,000 loan provided to her by someone in Canada, reported The Daily Telegraph.
Details of the plot - which was Australia's largest by passenger vessel - emerged at a previous hearing for Roberge.
Crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley alleged that the two young Canadian women were an integral part of this "floating warehouse" of drugs, having secreted 29kg of it in a suitcase in their tiny shared cabin.
Evidence given during the committal hearing for Roberge alleged that although the police case against her was circumstantial, she had travelled for more than a month in a tiny ship's cabin in which there was a suitcase packed with almost 30kg of cocaine.
"The cocaine, 29kg of it, was found in a cabin occupied by Ms Roberge and Ms Lagace for the past 40 days, packed up, strapped up, taped up and sitting in a suitcase and would be worth a considerable amount of money," Mr Crowley told the court.
"Two women are minding the cocaine. Ms Lagace and Ms Roberge are warehousing a quantity of cocaine.
"It is in effect a floating warehouse. They are sitting on it his until they get to Australia."
Roberge is scheduled to be sentenced before the Downing Centre District Court on March 21 while Tamine will be sentenced on October 26.