POLICE who arrived at a remote stretch of the Newell Highway, north of Moree way up near the Queensland border, on March 15 last year were confronted with an unusual sight.
A dead kangaroo, a badly damaged metal box and dozens of tablets shaped like the heads of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But the mystery was quickly solved by Strike Force Raptor detectives who had been monitoring the calls and texts of then Newcastle Rebels bikie Leighton Cowley.
At 6.45am that day, Leighton Cowley's 60-year-old mother, Janine Faye Cowley, had called him to say that she had a hit a kangaroo while transporting 2000 MDMA tablets, strapped to the bottom of her car, from his home at Aberglasslyn to central Queensland.
The impact had killed the roo and sent the 'Ninja Turtles' tablets cascading all over the remote stretch of roadway.
"Big ones off," Janine Cowley told her son. "They're pretty well squashed up."
Leighton Cowley asked: "Are they all broken? Have you opened it?"
And his mother replied: "Aw the bags are busted out. Oh no there's still a fair bit in there but, yeah no I mean most of the, um, some of the pills are squashed yeah."
Leighton Cowley told his mother to hide the tablets in the car and continue driving until she found a secluded spot to stop and count how many tablets could be salvaged.
It wasn't until she next called that Janine Cowley told her son that when the bags containing the MDMA had split, a lot of the tablets had been left scattered all over the roadway.
At this Leighton Cowley became upset, explained to his mother how much money the tablets were worth and told her to send the remaining tablets back to him via the post, according to an agreed statement of facts.
While Leighton Cowley was calling his associates to explain the situation, his mother was driving north to a post office in Queensland, where she express mailed the remaining tablets back to him at Aberglasslyn.
Leighton Cowley, Leon Gibbons and Jack Laidlaw were arrested in April and May, 2019, by Strike Force Raptor detectives investigating the large commercial supply of MDMA and methamphetamine in the Hunter.
Leighton Cowley, now 36, was jailed in Newcastle District Court earlier this month for a maximum of eight-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to supplying nearly 1.9kg of MDMA and 1.3kg of methamphetamine, including the 2000 MDMA tablets to his mother.
Janine Cowley was arrested a few weeks after her son and admitted leaving his home and hitting a kangaroo while heading north, but denied posting any drugs back to his address.
She ultimately pleaded guilty to supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and on Wednesday was spared a jail term in Newcastle District Court.
Acting Judge Stephen Walmsley said a term of imprisonment was appropriate, but due to Janine Cowley's "excellent" record, her age, health problems and the "minor role" she played it was appropriate to place her on a two-year intensive corrections order.
Gibbons was jailed for a maximum of four-and-a-half years in April for supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, while Laidlaw was jailed for a maximum of three years and nine months in May.