Our three clients are all Indonesian nationals who were crew members aboard a ship headed for Australia.
The ship’s cargo-hold was altered to increase its capacity, containing a speed boat and dozens of ‘Prada’ bags filled with a total of over 600 kilograms of heroin.
The ship anchored approximately two kilometres from Australian shores, and the speedboat was ferried back and forth unloading the heroin-filled bags onto the mainland.
Unknown to the ship’s captain and crew, Australian authorities had been tipped-off about the operation and ultimately arrested all on board the ship.
The captain and officers were all convicted at trial. They were represented by other lawyers.
Six crew members faced a separate trial, with our team representing three of the men in Downing Centre District Court.
We advised our clients not to give evidence after the close of the prosecution case at trial, as the state of the evidence was that knowledge or recklessness had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. They were ultimately found ‘not guilty’ of all charges.
The remaining three crew members – represented by other lawyers – each testified in court. They were questioned at length and ultimately found guilty. In our view, it was a significant strategic error to have exposed the men to cross-examination, given the weaknesses in the evidence at the close of the prosecution case.