Importation of Drugs


Importation of drugs - attempt to possess heroin - telephone intercepts - accuracy of translations - trial - retrial - discontinuance of proceeding

Our client was charged with importing a marketable quantity of heroin into Australia, and attempting to possess such heroin.  The prosecution alleged that he, along with others in Malaysia, had organised for another person to bring the heroin into Australia, and that he would collect the person (and the drugs) upon their arrival at the airport. The bulk of the evidence consisted of travel movements to and from Malaysia around the time of the importation, telephone calls to and from Malaysia and parties of interest at the relevant time, two records of interview made by our client, CCTV footage at Melbourne airport, and most significantly, telephone intercepts between our client and an associate in a foreign dialect which the Crown alleged described the offending in detail.

Our client steadfastly denied that he had knowledge of the drugs, and he denied he had any intention to possess such drugs.  The matter ran to trial by jury in the County Court. Prior to the trial commencing, our client disputed the accuracy of the translation of the telephone intercepts. 

Central to how the matter would be decided was an assessment of whether the translation of the intercepts in a foreign dialect was accurate, or whether other less incriminating interpretations of the dialect were available. Following extended argument on this point, we were able to have the interpretation amended to reflect our client’s instructions.

Our client gave evidence in his defence, after which a jury could not unanimously decide whether to find him guilty or not guilty.  This jury was therefore discharged.  The matter then proceeded to retrial.  Again, our client gave evidence, and again, the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.  After the second jury was discharged, we formally applied to the prosecution to discontinue the prosecution in light of the difficulties in the first two trials.  The prosecution granted this application, and the case against our client was discontinued.