Queanbeyan man pleads not guilty to attempting to possess commercial quantity of drugs after alleged involvement with excavator of cocaine
Labor is ahead in early Victorian election results as counting continues. Follow along with our live blog Mining Excavator
Keep up with the count as votes are tallied in the Victorian state election
Full TV coverage of the Victorian state election
For the latest flood and weather warnings, search on ABC Emergency
A Queanbeyan man has faced trial over the discovery of more than 270 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside an excavator imported from South Africa.
A Queanbeyan man has faced trial after police found 276 kilograms of cocaine inside an excavator
Timothy Engstrom has pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border control drug
The court heard a recording of Mr Engstrom discussing plans to retrieve the drugs
Police intercepted the excavator when it arrived in Australia by ship at Port Kembla in June 2019.
An x-ray revealed there were 384 packages inside the arm of the excavator, which contained 276 kilograms of cocaine with a purity of 83 per cent.
Police replaced the cocaine with a legal substance and put the packages back inside the digger.
They put surveillance devices on it and allowed it to continue on its way to Bungendore, 40 minutes east of Canberra.
In July it arrived at Bungendore Landscape Supplies, the struggling business owned by Timothy Engstrom and his close friend.
Mr Engstrom pleaded not guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border control drug in the NSW District Court yesterday.
The NSW District Court trial heard excerpts from conversations between the two men from covert police recordings.
It included discussions to keep two cars ready on the property as Mr Engstrom said "It's good to have a f***ing contingency".
The court also heard he said "it would be every man for himself" if things went bad.
Prosecutor Adam McGrath told the court once the excavator had arrived, the pair were recorded talking about their plans.
"[They were] discussing their plans for the forthcoming Sunday, when they were going to retrieve the drugs," he said.
Mr McGrath told the jury Mr Engstrom cut open the digger with an angle grinder and his partner pulled out the packages, and the pair then fist pumped.
Police arrived on the scene a short time later.
Mr Engstrom's defence counsel said any suggestion his client had acted out of a result of financial difficulty was "denied in the strongest possible terms".
He said there was no denying the excavator contained cocaine, but told the jury they'd have to decide whether Mr Engstrom had known it was in there.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
Wheel Loader 5 Ton AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)