AN Australian tourist became an unwitting drug mule when 10kg of cocaine
was concealed in his luggage without his knowledge.
The accidental smuggler's role in an global trafficking ring allegedly
headed by Sydney men Shayne Desmond Hatfield and Michael Hurley was
revealed for the first time in a Sydney court yesterday.
A Brisbane man, identified in court as Gary Macdonald, checked two bags on
to a flight from Argentina on October 8, 2004 -- but, while he arrived
home, his bags did not.
A police informant later revealed baggage handlers were paid to remove the
bags in Sydney before Customs could inspect them.
Hatfield and 10 other men yesterday faced Central Local Court for the
start of committal proceedings in their cases, charged with a range of
drug supply offences.
The tourist has not been charged with any offence -- he denies any
knowledge of the drugs, the court heard.
His denial is reminiscent of a more celebrated case -- that of Australian
Corby claimed she was unaware marijuana had been placed in her bags when
she was arrested in Bali -- but she failed to convince judges and was
jailed for 20 years.
For Hatfield and the others, yesterday was like a school reunion as they
sat squashed in the same large dock at Central Local Court.
They laughed, chatted easily and waved at family and friends in the public
gallery as prosector David Staehli opened the case against them.
Hatfield's girlfriend Virginia Broun even blew kisses at her partner.
Mr Staehli told Magistrate David Heilpern the alleged chiefs of the
operation were Hatfield, Michael Hurley, Sean Peter North and Les Mara --
the two latter men "could have been charged if they were located".
Mr Staehli said a man named Tom had approached the NSW Crime Commission in
December 2004 and spilled the beans on his association with the alleged
racket, which allegedly smuggled 200kg of cocaine into the country.
The case will resume on Friday, with Tom expected to testify on Monday.
Hurley is not part of theproceedings. Mr Staehli said he was "too ill to
- Shayne Hatfield, 40, Bondi.
- Ryan Chandler, 28, Tweed Heads.
- Ian Chalmers, 40, Paddington.
- Fawaz Elmir, 37, Padstow.
- Norman Niass, 55, Petersham.
- Gilbert Gedeon, 28, Winston Hills.
- Stephen Sevastopoulos, 50, Kings Cross.
- David Dowe, 70, Coogee.
- Robert Pavan, 56, Maroubra.
- Joe Zaiter.
- Mario Alexandridis.