A Cranebrook father-of-five caught up in an elaborate drug ring will spend Christmas behind bars after he was refused bail.
Kenneth Neal, 30, appeared before Penrith Local Court last Friday charged with ‘supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug’ and ‘participating in a criminal group or contributing to criminal activity’.
Neal was among four people arrested on December 10 after 15kg of cannabis, worth nearly $120,000, and $900,000 cash was seized from properties across Sydney following an investigation by Penrith Regional Enforcement Squad.
Despite offering up a $10,000 surety from his father, daily reporting as well as a house arrest condition, Magistrate Geoff Hiatt was unable to overlook the “overwhelmingly strong prosecution case”.
The court heard Neal had made admissions following his arrest and claimed to have been struggling with a gambling addiction.
The prosecutor described Neal’s involvement as “not minor or passing”, saying he was “a major supplier in this operation”.
Magistrate Hiatt said Neal would serve a significant custodial sentence – “not in terms of months, but in terms of years”.
Police allege that between October and December, the group acquired over 160 kilograms of cannabis from South Australia via domestic mail services and supplied it across Sydney, with an estimated potential street value of approximately $1.2 million.
Officers seized electronic storage devices, laptops, mobile phones, documentation, clothing and equipment consistent with the supply of prohibited drugs as part of their haul.
A 59-year-old woman and two men, aged 28 and 32, were also arrested in Glendenning as part of the sting.
Neal, who has no previous criminal record, is due to face Penrith Local Court again in February.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.