THE Newcastle-based co-ordinator for a major drug importation syndicate plans to give evidence about the role he and his 69-year-old “right-hand man” played in the $245 million cocaine catamaran plot and will claim he was subject to “exculpatory duress”, a court has heard.
That evidence from Kent Anthony Jackson, 64, who played a vital co-ordination and logistics role for the syndicate that sailed a 13-metre catamaran packed with 700 kilograms of cocaine from Tahiti to Lake Macquarie in November last year, was expected to be heard at a sentence hearing in Newcastle District Court on Friday.
But the matter was adjourned when Jackson’s co-conspirator and “right-hand man” Dennis Malcolm Bath's barrister, Michael Burke, was struck down with a virus overnight.
The development comes as more details can be revealed about the Australian Federal Police case against Jackson and Bath, including transcripts of detailed recorded conversations the pair had about how to get the drugs, which included 547 kilograms of “pure” cocaine”, out of the twin hulls of the yacht.
Jackson and Bath have both pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a maximum of life in jail, and Jackson has also admitted to dealing with the proceeds of crime worth more than $50,000 in relation to six $10,000 bundles of cash found in a McDonald’s bag at Jackson’s Islington home after his arrest.
The pair appeared in Newcastle District Court on Friday for sentence and Judge Peter Berman was told Jackson intends to give evidence “which would touch on the differing roles that he and Bath played” and would claim that he was subject to “exculpatory duress”, a proposition the prosecution said it would “take issue with”.
The sentence hearing was adjourned to December 11.
The man who sailed the catamaran from Tahiti to Toronto, Craig William Lembke, has pleaded not guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
His trial will focus on whether or not he knew about the drugs on board.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.