The trial of the four accused ran for 98 days but in the end it appears the jury did not believe the pivotal Crown witness – a big heroin and cocaine dealer.
He had ”rolled over” and given police a version of events that came under serious challenge during the trial.
Of the more than $6 million that was stolen during the brazen robberies around Sydney, during which shots were fired from an AK47 and other weapons, only about $500,000 has been recovered.
The lack of a result is all the more embarrassing because it appears the Crown witness relied upon by the police may have been a principal in the robberies, rather than the relatively minor role he said he had.
The witness told the NSW District Court that at the beginning of 2009 when the robberies started, he had cash assets of about $60,000.
But under cross examination by the defence barrister Julie Hickleton, for one of the four defendants, Nathan Stuart, the witness admitted he had spent $55,000 on a boat, $17,000 on a BMW, $55,000 on a customised Harley Davidson motorcycle, $15,000 on a unit for his mistress and $6500 on jewellery for his wife.
In addition, he had lost $200,000 at the Sydney casino and had put a deposit of either $42,000 or $100,000 on a Bentley. There was another $250,000 invested in a Sydney restaurant “and then he spent $12,000 on his personal trainer and prostitutes”.
All up, Ms Hickleton told the jury in her closing address, he had spent $824,900 in just seven months.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want to be flippant, but this man has better cash flow than the state of Tasmania,” she said.
She said the jury should ask itself how he was “flash with the cash” and one explanation was that he had lied to the police and minimised his involvement in the crimes when he was heavily involved.
Sources familiar with the trial said it raised serious questions about putting forward big criminals as Crown witnesses.”
The main witness had been given an indemnity for his role in the robberies. Yet he admitted dealing kilograms of heroin and cocaine as well as buying guns and providing stolen cars.
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In a profession that has little time for it’s young achievers, tributes are flowing for Wellington barrister Greg King, who passed away Saturday.
“King, 43, was a theatrical criminal lawyer, most recently seen successfully defending Ewen Macdonald against the charge of murdering Scott Guy.
“Greg was well known and respected among police staff, and I know his death will be keenly felt by many people, including those in the wider legal community.”
New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm said the legal profession was ”tremendously saddened” by the news.
Temm said Greg King had a national reputation and was a very well known member of the profession.
“Throughout his career he represented clients who were often unpopular and he did that with real ability and determination.”
Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said King was a very nice guy and a fine advocate.
“Although young in years, Greg King had already achieved a huge amount in his career.
‘‘He was a lawyer in the finest traditions of the criminal bar, of the same stature as the likes of Mike Bungay, Kevin Ryan and Roy Stacey.”
Finlayson said King’s early death was very sad and expressed his deepest sympathies to King’s family.
Labour leader David Shearer also expressed his sadness at news of King’s death.
“Greg had one of this country’s finest legal brains. There wouldn’t be many New Zealanders who hadn’t heard of him.
“He has also made a huge contribution to raising the profile of the legal profession.
“Greg King’s death at such a young age is a tragedy. It will leave a huge gap.’’
King ran a practice with his wife, Catherine, out of Lower Hutt, and became a household name in July when he successfully defended Macdonald.
Legal experts hailed his work, which famously included wild-eyed closing arguments.
King was also involved in the defences of Scott Watson, John Barlow and Clayton Weatherston. “
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IN a week where newspaper articles reported reduction in crime, the streets of Wollongong were kept very busy this weekend.