A rubbish bag full of $500,000 buried in the backyard of a
major drug manufacturer was dug up under the cover of
darkness by an associate after the property was seized by
The night raid to recover the money is revealed in a High
Court civil ruling against Royce Allan Duncan, which ordered
the forfeiture of more than $2.4 million of assets.
Duncan, of Omanawa, was last month acquitted after a trial on
serious methamphetamine offences, but Justice Pamela Andrews
had earlier ruled "on the balance of probabilities" that the
Tauranga man had amassed a small fortune from criminal
He had already pleaded guilty in another case to other
methamphetamine charges, including manufacturing $1 million
of the drug.
Justice Andrews found the 49-year-old could not prove how he
paid for assets, such as a lifestyle block, 50ft launch and
fleet of cars, while living off ACC payments for injuries he
suffered in a motorcycle accident.
He claimed to have won large jackpots at SkyCity, but police
analysis of the gambling records showed the cash spent - and
cashed out - at the casino was more likely to be laundering
of drug profits.
Duncan also said that the cars were owned by other people, or
were sold shortly before seizure, while the boat was jointly
owned in a syndicate of friends.
But Justice Andrews ruled in favour of awarding $2.4 million
of assets to the Crown - the second largest forfeiture under
the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act which came into force in
The order included the forfeiture of a lifestyle block, 11
cars and cash totalling $514,000.
But $500,000 of that money was not found by police. Instead,
detectives in Operation Safari learned the cash existed after
the arrest of Duncan in September 2010.
A bugged conversation between Duncan and an associate after
Duncan's arrest revealed a plastic bag of cash had been
buried in the backyard. Police had dug holes in the lawn and
had not discovered the stash. But one of Duncan's associates
returned to the property one night after the police search to
retrieve the money.
He had to "army crawl" and was "covered in mud head to toe"
when he rang Duncan at 3am, according to the conversation
transcript in Justice Andrews' decision.
"I think they've dug it up mate and put it back ... they have
dug all around it, the whole property is ... dug up mate,"
the man told Duncan.
"They have dug right where that big lot was mate ... like a
foot away ... but it's all still there."
Justice Andrews said the money was still missing.
Her ruling was suppressed until the end of the criminal trial
to avoid prejudicing the jury against Duncan. He and another
Tauranga man, Wallace Bramley, were acquitted of charges of
manufacturing 2.3kg of methamphetamine and conspiring to
supply the drug.
The jury was told that the pair had already pleaded guilty to
other serious methamphetamine charges, including
manufacturing $1 million worth of P. They are yet to be
Estate agent Nigel David Walker, a former police officer, was
found guilty of conspiring with Duncan to launder the profits
of his drug enterprise.
Sworn affidavits from police in the High Court file also
highlight Duncan's links to the Hells Angels and Filthy Few
Previous methamphetamine and money laundering charges, laid
against Duncan in 2007 when 200g of P and $60,000 cash were
found in his car, were thrown out after the search warrant
was successfully challenged.
Forfeiture cases are determined by the civil level of proof,
the "balance of probabilities", rather than the much higher
criminal evidential threshold of "beyond reasonable doubt".
The onus is on defendants to prove how assets were paid for.
Seized from Duncan
A 2.3ha lifestyle block worth $550,000
11 cars, including a 1967 Chevrolet Impala and a Chrysler
6 motorcycles, including a Harley Davidson
2 boats, including a 50ft Spencer launch worth $140,000
A 3.5 tonne digger
Cash totalling $541,000
- by Jared Savage of the NZ Herald