The highest court in New Zealand has ruled a woman involved in a 500kg Ninety Mile Beach meth importation can no longer appeal her sentences.
Selaima Fakaosilea – a close relative of Jonah Lomu – was found guilty by a jury in 2019 of importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal gang, in relation to the 2016 drug bust.
More than 500kg of the Class A drug was found by police in a rented caravan and buried in sand dunes at Ninety Mile Beach (Te One-roa-a-Tōhē) in June 2016.
This is her third attempt to have her sentence reduced; first at the Court of Appeal, and twice at the Supreme Court – the highest court in New Zealand.
Fakaosilea, who maintained her innocence in the case, was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
This was added to a 2018 sentence of 14 years and six months in prison, for two charges of supplying meth and one of supplying cocaine, which she had pleaded guilty to.
This gave a total time of 27 years in prison.
In 2021, Fakaosilea went to the Court of Appeal for the Ninety Mile Beach meth importation case, appealing both the conviction and sentence.
Her sentence was reduced by three years, giving a total prison time of 24 years.
However, her lawyer Greg Bradford was unsuccessful in trying to argue Fakaosilea was not involved with the importation, because any alleged involvement by her came after the drugs were in New Zealand waters.
In early 2022, the Supreme Court denied an application for a second appeal against the 2019 conviction and sentence.
However, the door was left open for another sentence appeal, when compared with an appeal by Wellington drug operation helper, William Allan Berkland.
Berkland was originally sentenced to 13 years and three months in jail for his role in helping the head of a meth operation run from a Wellington home.
The Supreme Court cut his sentence to eight years and eight months’ jail, due to his lessor role in the operation.
In light of Berkland’s appeal, Fakaosilea went back to the Supreme Court, seeking leave to appeal both her 2018 sentence and further appeal her 2019 sentence.
But, in a judgement released on Wednesday, Supreme Court Justices Susan Glazebrook, Joe Williams and Stephen Kós ruled there were no inconsistencies in the sentencing.
The judges noted Fakaosilea had a discount of four years applied to her 2019 jail term due to her background circumstances.
The three judges said they were not satisfied there was any risk of substantial miscarriage of justice in either case.
Fakaosilea comes from a prominent rugby family – her brother Lolo Fakaosilea is an Australian rugby union player currently playing for Japan – and she is a close relative of All Black great Jonah Lomu, with the siblings calling him “uncle”.
Another brother Ulakai Fakaosilea was one of seven other people also convicted over the Ninety Mile Beach meth importation.
He pleaded guilty and received 22 years, nine months in jail.
In 2022, Fakaosilea was caught in a romantic relationship with a prison guard at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility.