WHEN he began giving his evidence more than a week ago, a drug syndicate member jailed over a failed importation plot said he told Craig Lembke weeks before the cocaine-packed catamaran sailed into Lake Macquarie that the Newcastle sailor and musician would be paid $500,000.
But after five days in the witness box, which included a rigorous cross-examination by Public Defender Peter Krisenthal, the drug syndicate member admitted he could not be certain when he mentioned it.
When Mr Krisenthal suggested to the drug syndicate member that the first time Mr Lembke heard about the $500,000 fee was after the journey had been completed and before the police raids, the syndicate member could not be sure.
"I'm pretty sure I told him I was going to pay him a million dollars," the syndicate member said. "But about the $500,000 I'm not 100 per cent sure when I told him that.
"I was under the apprehension that I spoke to him before that about it. "That's what I seem to remember. "I'm not 100 per cent certain, no."
Mr Krisenthal suggested to the drug syndicate member that upon hearing of the $500,000 payment, Mr Lembke asked the syndicate member "what's all this about?" and the syndicate member replied "loose lips sink ships".
"I don't remember that," the syndicate member replied.
The syndicate member also admitted that he deliberately did not mention the drugs on board the catamaran to Mr Lembke, despite being desperate to find someone to help him unload them.
Mr Krisenthal played the audio of a listening device from inside a car that recorded the syndicate member running through a number of people that might be able to assist.
The syndicate member acknowledged that he did not mention Mr Lembke's name, despite claiming that only hours before he had promised Mr Lembke $1 million.
"You didn't mention Craig Lembke because if you mentioned it to Craig Lembke, he'd know that there's actually drugs on that boat, wouldn't he?" Mr Krisenthal asked the syndicate member, who agreed.
"And you didn't mention Craig Lembke because he didn't know that there were drugs on that boat, did he?"
"He was duped all the way along, wasn't he?"
To that the syndicate member replied: "You might say that".
Whether or not Mr Lembke knew about the drugs on board is the key issue during his trial in Newcastle District Court, as is the question of when he knew he was to be paid $500,000 for sailing the 13-metre Skarabej from Tahiti to Lake Macquarie.
The trial continues.
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