The Crown has no direct evidence to prove the
money-laundering charges laid against two men, according to
one of the defence lawyers.
Valentine Barclay Nicholas, 52, and a co-accused whose name
is suppressed, are on trial in the Rotorua District Court
charged with one count each of money laundering between
August 30 and September 25, 2006.
The Crown alleges Nicholas obtained $90,300 cash from the
sale of cannabis, which he gave to the co-accused. The
co-accused deposited the money into his family trust bank
account then wrote a cheque from that account to buy a
forestry block, which the Crown said was intended for
It's alleged the transaction was an attempt to conceal the
cash which came from selling drugs.
In his opening address yesterday Jonathan Temm, lawyer for
the co-accused, said he would call four witnesses.
He said the Crown had conceded the case was circumstantial,
with no "smoking gun" piece of evidence.
Mr Temm said the Crown's theory was the $90,300 came from
selling drugs, based only on it being in $20 notes and a bank
teller's testimony the notes smelt like the drug.
"Where's the real evidence of that?" he said.
He said the next elements of the Crown's theory were that the
money came from Nicholas and Nicholas gave it to the
"Where is the evidence that Mr Nicholas gave any money to
[co-accused] at any time?" Mr Temm said. "It's like a big
vacant hole in the middle of your jigsaw."
Mr Temm cautioned the jury to avoid "prejudice and bias" in
relation to the Crown's evidence that Nicholas was a Mongrel
Mob member, had CCTV at his house, several mobile phones and
a broken radio scanner.
"It means nothing."
Mr Temm said the $90,300 was his client's and came from
legitimate sources. His client did a lot of transactions in
cash, selling vehicles, motorbikes and other property.
Defence witnesses would confirm they had been parties to, or
knew of, those cash transactions, Mr Temm said.
Mr Temm said if his client had been trying to conceal
something it was "not very smart" to go into his own bank and
chat to staff about buying a property with the money.
Nicholas' lawyer, Bill Nabney, did not call defence evidence
on behalf of his client.
The trial is expected to conclude on Wednesday.
- By Katie Holland of
the Rotorua Daily Post