Friday, December 9, 2011

Ice storm engulfs former officer

ONE of the country's most senior law enforcement officers, Mark Standen, is now a convicted drug trafficker, sentenced to a 16-year jail term for the crime he devoted so much of his 30-year career to detecting.

Family support ... Mark Standen's brothers, Grant, left, and Glen leave the court yesterday. Photo: Janie Barrett

The former assistant director of investigations for the NSW Crime Commission was described yesterday as one of the principals in a conspiracy to import 300 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, or ice. At the time of his arrest in June 2008, the wholesale price of pseudoephedrine was $40,000 a kilogram.

In prison overalls and runners, Standen sat quietly in the dock picking at his nails as Justice Bruce James of the Supreme Court delivered his sentence.

The 54-year-old displayed no emotion on being told he would be behind bars until June 2024, by which time he will be 67. He later smiled quickly at Grant and Glen, two of his five brothers.
The judge yesterday rejected the suggestion by Standen's legal team that he was an adviser to the crime syndicate who merely ''added to the prospects of success'' of the planned importation. The syndicate members included Standen's friend food importer Bakhos ''Bill'' Jalalaty, who was married to Standen's former police colleague Dianne Jalalaty.

In early 2006, Jalalaty was handed $1 million in cash to organise an importing business which was to be the front for the future drug importations.

The source of the cash was James Kinch, a British-born international drug trafficker and money launderer. He encountered Standen when arrested in Australia in 2003.

Standen later helped Kinch get off the drug charges by telling prosecuting authorities Kinch had become a key informant who was giving invaluable assistance.

Three years later, law enforcement agencies became aware Kinch, Standen and Jalalaty were planning their own serious criminal activity.

In May 2007, Dutch crime figures, using an internet cafe in Amsterdam, sent a fax to Jalalaty. Purportedly from an Indian food supplier offering to send samples to Jalalaty, the fax was intercepted and sparked a major covert international investigation.

For a year police watched and listened as the trio finalised its importation details. On May 28, 2008, five days before Standen's world was to come crashing down, the conspirators believed their 300 kilograms of drugs had arrived, buried in a rice shipment. The advice from Kinch was not to unload until he gave the word.

As it turns out, there were no drugs. The 300 kilograms had mysteriously vanished en route from Pakistan to Sydney, not that Standen and his co-conspirators were aware of that.

In a coded message Kinch said to Jalalaty it was nice to hear ''the children'' had arrived home but they should be put in bed ''until Dr Maurice [Standen] says they are fully recovered''.

Three days later, Kinch emailed Jalalaty with the alarming news that Dutch members of the syndicate had been arrested. ''Can you ask Maurice [Standen] for advice on moving the children?'' Kinch, growing increasingly desperate, then emailed Standen asking him to help Jalalaty find the drugs among the rice. ''Can you ask Mirth [Jalalaty ] to get a metal detector to take for the kids to go treasure hunting?'' he wrote.

The following day, June 2, 2008, at 2pm, Standen was arrested in the commission's Kent Street headquarters. Jalalaty pleaded guilty and received six years' jail. Kinch is in jail in Thailand fighting extradition to Australia.

Yesterday, at Standen's sentencing, Justice James said because he risked being attacked by other prisoners owing to his police background, he would have to spend all but the last three years of his sentence alone in a tiny cell, measuring only 4.3 metres by 3.1 metres.

The judge said Standen had been isolated in jail except for a brief period where he was allowed to associate with one other prisoner, understood to be disgraced former judge Marcus Einfeld, with whom he played Scrabble.

Only eight visitors are on Standen's visiting list, one of them being his former girlfriend Louise Baker, whom Standen had showered with gifts and overseas holidays.

Standen, who has shown no remorse, was motivated by mounting debts, the judge said. A psychiatrist previously told the court he could find no link between Standen's chaotic home life, with his psychotic, alcoholic wife, and his subsequent criminal conduct.

In sentencing him to 22 years, with 16 years non parole, Justice James said he had taken into account the ''public disgrace and humiliation'' Standen had suffered during his spectacular fall from grace.