Police found $60,000 cash in a brown McDonald's bag when they searched the home of a drug syndicate organiser behind a plan to sail a catamaran packed with more than 500 kilograms of cocaine from Tahiti to NSW, a court has heard.
Crown prosecutor Rob Ranken on Tuesday said the syndicate organiser had earlier picked up $90,000 in Wahroonga on Sydney's north shore to pay saxophonist and keen sailor Craig Lembke some of the money he was owed for skippering the catamaran to Australia.
Mr Ranken said the organiser handed over $20,000 in cash to Lembke, who had already been promised another $500,000 for the job, on the night before their arrest when the catamaran was moored near the Toronto Royal Motor Yacht Club in mid-November 2017.
Lembke, 49, of Mayfield East, and his co-accused, 36-year-old Daniel Percy of Western Australia, have pleaded not guilty in the Newcastle District Court to importing a commercial quantity of cocaine.
Lembke says he didn't know the cocaine was hidden in the twin hulls of the 13-metre catamaran Skarabej.
Percy is accused of organising the catamaran for the drug shipment but denies knowing the cocaine was on board.
The pure quantity of cocaine in the 700kg of white powder seized by police was 548kg.
Mr Ranken told the jury on Tuesday - the second day of his closing address - that police recorded a conversation Lembke had with a drug syndicate member in a car at Toronto on November 14 in 2017.
Lembke told the syndicate member, who was jailed for his role in the importation but cannot be named for legal reasons, he was worried about the people who knew he had cash coming his way.
Mr Ranken said Lembke was well aware the people paying him the money were involved in criminal conduct.
At one stage Lembke tells the syndicate member: "I couldn't sleep for weeks leading up to it."
The prosecutor said Lembke was saying he couldn't sleep during the trip from Tahiti because he was aware he was importing cocaine into Australia.
Lembke had shown a "guilty mind" when he tossed overboard an encrypted phone he'd been using to contact drug syndicate members during the trip before he arrived into Coffs Harbour.
The musician had set off from Tahiti in mid-October 2017 with his friend, David Mitchell, who had started up a yacht delivery company, to sail the Skarabej to NSW.
The pair arrived at Lake Macquarie on November 14 mooring near the Toronto Royal Motor Yacht Club.
Police were monitoring the Skarabej when Lembke transferred a drug syndicate member out to the catamaran in a dinghy on November 15.
Lembke returned to shore while the syndicate member began using power tools to cut through the hull to access the drugs.
The trial, before Judge Jonathon Priestley, continues.
Australian Associated Press