Melina Roberge, the 23-year-old Canadian accused of the 211-pound cocaine cruise ship importation, has been committed to stand trial in Australia in February next year for her role in the record drug plot.
Roberge sobbed loudly and wept in the dock of Central Local Court in Sydney as Magistrate Robert Williams listed the reasons why he was sending her to trial.
Wearing a red cardigan and black top with her long, dark hair parted in the center, Roberge came up from the cells and began weeping almost immediately as she spoke to her lawyer.
Williams said prosecutors had built a strong circumstantial case against Roberge, who was arrested on Aug. 28 with former porn star Isabelle Lagace, 28, and a third French Canadian, Andre Tamine, 63.
The two girls shared Cabin P312 on board the Sea Princess for 39 days while Tamine occupied cabin C537.
An amount totaling 211 pounds of high-grade cocaine was allegedly found in suitcases in both cabins, with 63 pounds in a suitcase in the cabin shared by the two women.
“It is clear there was a large quantity of the substance which appeared to be in safekeeping in the room shared by Lagace and Roberge,” Williams told the court.
“It is highly improbable that a person other than the defendant Roberge or Lagace would have stored the items in the suitcase under the bed.
“The cabin space was tiny. The suitcase was reasonably large. All other suitcases in the cabin were emptied.
A suitcase filled with cocaine after it was seized by customs on board the Sea Princess in Sydney.
“It is also clear that Roberge and Lagace shared the cabin for at least 39 days.”
Williams said Roberge and the other two accused in the alleged cocaine plot had booked their tickets for the Sea Princess cruise within a day of each other and used the same travel agency.
He said the two women had shared an email address, both embarked on the ship on July 20, and their emergency contacts for the booking were the same.
He said CCTV footage of the ship’s arrival and departures in port showed Roberge and Lagace returning to the ship together. They were with Tamine.
He said the suitcases allegedly found with cocaine were similar in weight and the cocaine within was of a similar level of purity, similarly packaged in ziplock bags and taped with packing tape allegedly found in the women’s cabin.
Williams asked Roberge to stand up in court as he asked her three questions on whether she wanted to give any evidence in relation to the charge against her of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
Weeping loudly, Roberge said “no” three times.
She continued to sob as Williams committed her to stand trial on Feb. 3 for the alleged drug importation.
The two glamorous young women made world headlines after it emerged that they had posted images of the exotic stops on their lavish world cruise on Instagram in the weeks before their dramatic arrest.
Lawyers for Roberge previously argued that the youngest of the three arrested was unaware of the cocaine importation and had spent 40 days sharing Lagace’s cabin not knowing what was in the suitcase.
Lagace has pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
Fascinating details of the drug importation, which was Australia’s largest by passenger vessel, emerged in Central Local Court last week.
Seven members of the cocaine drug cartel were aboard the Sea Princess as it cruised from New York via Tahiti to Sydney carrying 211 pounds of cocaine, it was alleged in court.
Crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley alleged that the two glamorous young Canadian women were an integral part of this “floating warehouse” of drugs, having secreted 63 pounds of it in a suitcase in their tiny shared cabin.
Along with their co-accused, Tamine, four men who were part of the alleged drug operation were also on board the cruise ship in cabins 706 and 715 as the ship sailed toward Australia, the court heard.
Evidence given during a committal hearing for Roberge alleged that she was a knowing participant in the attempt to import the cocaine into Australia.
However, lawyer Ragni Mathur argued that Roberge was unaware of the cocaine in her friend Lagace’s luggage.
She said Roberge had booked her ticket for the trip with another man who was not associated with the criminal enterprise behind the drug deal.
But Lagace and Tamine had booked their cruise together, Mathur told the court.
Mathur said Roberge should escape being committed for trial because she was only guilty by her association with Lagace.
Mathur insisted that despite the fact that Roberge was a friend of her traveling mate Lagace, that did not mean she knew about the cocaine enterprise.
“You don’t need two chickens to keep warm a golden egg,” she said.