October 1, 2010 - 3:00AM
A SENIOR Victorian magistrate has expressed horror that the maximum penalty for importing ketamine - a veterinary tranquiliser abused as a dangerous party drug - is a fine with conviction.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic said she was ''quite horrified'' that a Monash University student who imported 332 grams of the drug was ''only liable to a fine''.
A prosecutor yesterday said it was an ''anomaly'' in the Customs Act that the charge could only be decided summarily - in a magistrate's court - with a maximum penalty of a $110,000 fine.
Matt Ryan told Ms Popovic that the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions was aware of the situation but ''nothing has been done to rectify this as yet''.
He told her that ''you are not alone in having concerns about this matter'' and that ''frustrations were felt down the chain''.
Mr Ryan said later in Melbourne Magistrates Court that Ms Popovic's comments would form part of submissions to the federal Attorney-General to have the law changed.
Miki Yee, 23, of Southbank pleaded guilty to charges of importing a prohibited import and trafficking ketamine and possessing marijuana.
The court heard Yee, the son of a high-profile Malaysian lawyer, was arrested at his apartment in March this year after the ketamine was found in a parcel from Kuala Lumpur.
Defence lawyer Tom Sawyer said Yee, who admitted selling ketamine to friends, had used the drug since he was 16 and had bought it in Malaysia for up to $70 a gram.
Mr Sawyer said that after Yee arrived in 2009 to study, he found the cost of ketamine in Australia, up to $1000 for five grams, was too expensive.
Ms Popovic told Yee, in convicting and fining him $10,000 for importation, that ''if I had within my sentencing powers to impose a more substantial penalty I would have''.
On the other charges, Yee was also convicted and put on a community-based order for 18 months with conditions that included being assessed for drug and alcohol issues.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fine-for-party-drug-import-20100930-15zce.html