DRUG OFFENCE: Symeon Thomas Marou, who was an organiser of the Mabo day celebrations in 2015, was sent to jail for three week trafficking period.
DRUG OFFENCE: Symeon Thomas Marou, who was an organiser of the Mabo day celebrations in 2015, was sent to jail for three week trafficking period. Mike Richards GLA030615MABO

Judge torn over remorseful Marou's jail time

A WELL-RESPECTED indigenous community leader with an excellent work history has shown that methamphetamine addiction does not discriminate.

Symeon Thomas Marou, 32, pleaded guilty yesterday in the Supreme Court of Rockhampton to one count of trafficking, involving five regular customers, and one of possessing over two grams of meth.

The Rockhampton-raised Gladstone resident appeared solemnly in court dressed in a black shirt and pants.

His case caused conflict for Justice Martin Burns who, after reading letters of support referring to Marou as a respectable and intelligent man, along with a letter of remorse which Mr Burns described as articulate and genuine, adjourned the matter for 30 minutes while he considered sentence.

"The Court of Appeal says I must send him to jail," Justice Burns said prior to the adjournment.

"It's not something I want to do."

Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker told the court Marou's Gladstone residence was searched on September 7, 2016, where Marou took police officers through and showed them where items were located which included 11.336 grams of pure meth, a rifle, ammunition and a mobile phone with text messages about deals carried out over a three-week period.

The court heard Marou made threats of violence to one customer who owed him $6400 and another customer owed him $9950.

Justice Burns said the way the text was written compared to the letter of remorse suggested Marou was a different person while on drugs.

The court heard Marou grew up with parents who took in about 100 foster children, with no less than 10 children in the house at any one time.

The household included his musician brother Jeremy.

Marou, who finished school at Heights College at grade 10, first worked at the Dreamtime Cultural Centre as a tour guide, then did farm work, painting and other labour jobs. He then went on to be the "first Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger" and after five years, was supervising 10 other indigenous rangers.

Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said Marou was instrumental in delivering the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program to Gladstone and Bundaberg.

"That is a real credit to you," Justice Burns said.

He said Marou's criminal history, which has no other drug convictions, started after the death of his father in 2002 when he turned to alcohol to cope and had used meth for the first time in 2016, becoming addicted quickly and using the drug on a daily basis within months.

When he became unemployed he turned to trafficking to support his addiction.

The court heard since his arrest, he had joined Narcotics Anonymous where he not only focused on his own drug rehabilitation, but he also helped other addicts.

Justice Burns ordered Marou to a 3.5 year prison term, suspended after 10 months, operational for four years.

Landscaper Dominic Doblo employed Marou after the charges were laid on a casual basis and has offered him a job on his release in December.



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