THARBOGANG drug kingpin Pasquale Barbaro’s bid to avoid spending the rest of his life behind bars was heard at the Victorian Court of Appeals yesterday.
Barbaro appealed the severity of his life sentence for drug smuggling, along with his “right hand man” Saverio Zirilli, who was sentenced to 26 years with a minimum of 18.
The bench of three judges – Justice Chris Maxwell, Justice David Harper and Justice Terry Forrest – opted to reserve their decision after lengthy submissions by the pair’s defence lawyers at a morning hearing yesterday.
The pair was sentenced in February for orchestrating a $600 million ecstasy importation – at the time the largest in history – and also receiving 100 kilograms of cocaine.
The 15 million ecstasy tablets were shipped into Melbourne from Italy in tomato tins in 2008.
A Customs inspection of the container revealed some of the 3034 tomato tins contained gravel while others contained MDMA pills with an average 33.2 per cent purity level.
During sentencing of the pair, Judge Betty King heard how Barbaro had been responsible for receiving the container and trafficking the pills.
Barbaro, 50, and Zirilli, 55, along with three other local men, were among 23 who were arrested over the haul.
The pair pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic a commercial quantity of MDMA, trafficking a commercial quantity of MDMA and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine in the Melboune Supreme Court in January.
They were sentenced a month later but a suppression order had been placed on the guilty plea until another Griffith man – Pasquale “Poppy” Sergi – had faced court for his role in the importation.
In May, a jury found Sergi guilty of intending to possess a commercial quantity of ecstasy and he is still awaiting sentencing.