Angela Francesca George, 39, outside the  courthouse.
Angela Francesca George, 39, outside the courthouse. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Work visa employee's synthetic 'tea' sales at adult shop

A VULNERABLE woman was caught up in a statewide operation where illegal synthetic cannabis was sold at her workplace.

Angela Francesca George, 39, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court on June 12 to two charges of supplying a dangerous drug and one of possessing a dangerous drug.

Crown prosecutor Megan Jones said George was one of many charged following a police operation into the supply of synthetic "tea” sold in Love Heart Adult shops across regional Queensland in 2014 and 2015.

In April, Victorian man David Andre Jules Piccinato, 45, and Toowoomba's Ross McGlone, 38, admitted trafficking $350,000 worth of the drug from five Love Heart Adult Shop stores in Queensland.

Piccinato owned the sex shops while McGlone worked as the operations manager.

The offending took place between October 2014 and January 2015 but Piccinato and McGlone were not charged until January of the following year.

George, who was an employee at Rockhampton's Love Heart Adult shop, was charged with supplying the drug on October 9, 2014, and January 12, 2015, with the possession charge from January 14, 2015.

The synthetic cannabis was toxic and was linked to the deaths of two people, while more than 30 other users presented at Mackay Hospital.

Their symptoms included vomiting, rashes, loss of taste, stomach cramps and seizures.

Defence lawyer Laura Reece said George, a New Zealand citizen, was not eligible for Centrelink assistance if she became unemployed and "by virtue of wanting to keep her job”, she complied with her bosses' orders to supply the illegal drug after becoming suspicious.

"All the shop assistants (of Love Heart Adult) were originally charged with trafficking,” she said.

The court heard the charges had been downgraded to supply and possession charges for most who cooperated with police.

Ms Reece said George, who wishes to return home immediately, had been in limbo since being charged 2.5 years ago, with irregular work being her only source of income.

"She simply wants to go home to her parents,” she said.

Judge Michael Burnett, who told the court he had sentenced someone else in George's position a month ago, sentenced George to a 12-month good behaviour order with a $1000 recognisance.

Piccinato was sentenced in April to six years' jail and will be eligible for parole from September 1, 2019. McGlone received five years and the sentence will be suspended from May 1, 2019.