Day 90: 26 July 2017
Thursday, 26 July 2018 06:22

Day nine (of 23) of the trial: Today’s first witness is a police officer with thirty years’ experience. He led a surveillance operation involving the three accused, and confirms having logged six ‘observations’. ‘Did you have an observation on that day?’ the Crown asks him. ‘Yes, I did,’ replies the sergeant. ‘From where to where?’ continues the lead prosecutor. ‘From the Arrivals gate at Hobart International Airport, to North Hobart.’ We learn that the surveillance was done at the behest of the Drug Squad. After admitting to having cannabis hidden on the passenger seat floor, the driver had then volunteered… ‘To be honest, there’s sixteen more bags in the boot’. The sergeant confirms that upon inspection he saw the bags, but it wasn’t within his brief to inspect them. That was for the Drug Squad. The next witness, the Crown alleges, with his wife drove from northern Tasmania, to Hobart, to collect a package of drugs on behalf of his son. The couple had been followed, apprehended, the car searched, the pair charged, and bailed. But he says he knew nothing. Later, a voice recording of an extremely agitated young man (allegedly, the son) tells the person he’s calling (one of the accused) to… ‘throw everything away’. The person is heard to say that something happened to his parents. He repeats the need to throw everything away. I often look across at the seven men and five women of the jury (plus the two ‘reserves’), and I wonder if they – like me, ordinary people – are comprehending things as easily, or, at times, with as much uncertainty, as me. What are they each making of all of this? Because, at some point down the track, (these) twelve individuals will need to decide if the three men sitting opposite them – the accused – are to go to jail for a long, long time. I wonder how I would feel if I was in their shoes. Is the evidence being presented sufficient and compelling enough to convict the accused of trafficking drugs? Will the jury, correctly and fairly, come to a just decision?

This is my final 'teaser' blog post: 90 of the 279 daily postings covering the nine months we lived aboard our yacht in Tasmania in 2017. Please do me a favour and review what you've read so far -- as briefly as you wish -- and send to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . My agent says she will use comments you provide to help attract a publisher. Thank you.

 
Day 88: 24 July 2017
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 07:31

Day seven of the trial: I know this probably sounds weird, but Court is starting to feel a bit like family: familiar. This morning, I felt loss. The jury has not been called. Not that I know any of them, other than the woman member who I sat next to while we ate lunch in Salamanca park last week. We hadn’t discussed the case, or more particularly, evidence, because to do so could have seen us both put in jail. We’d talked about the beautiful Hobart weather. First up, today, His Honour announces his ruling on whether evidence to do with the police breathalyzer unit, which had been set up deliberately and solely to stop and search one car for drugs, was admissible. His Honour has decided that the evidence can be admitted. The jury comes in, as do the defendants, and once again our family is intact. Today’s witness has learnt the drill. After thirty minutes, I’ve counted forty as being the number of times he’s replied ‘I don’t recollect’ to a question. I think His Honour is fed up. ‘Do you recall what hairstyle you had back then?’ ‘I don’t recollect.’ ‘Was your hair long or short?’ ‘I don’t recollect.’ The witness is shown a video clip of the now infamous shed, in North Hobart. A car arrives and a man gets out. ‘Is that man, you?’ asks the Crown prosecutor. ‘I don’t know,’ replies the witness. His Honour clearly is unhappy, and intervenes. He tells the witness it’s a crime to tell an untruth – it’s called perjury – and almost always carries a term in jail. The witness is shown a statutory declaration and is asked if it is his. He replies that he is a slow reader and will need time to read it. His Honour sends the jury out and retires to his chambers, to give the man time to read up. Is it his stat dec? he replies when His Honour returns, ‘I don’t recollect!’ Hmm.

 
Day 89: 25 July 2017
Wednesday, 25 July 2018 11:03

Day eight of the trial: By now, we’ve heard from various witnesses as to why they visited the shed: to buy a vehicle, to buy a caravan, to have a vehicle repaired, to buy a spare part, to do electrical work. A witness is shown CCTV footage of him arriving at the shed. ‘Is that person you?’ asks the Crown prosecutor. ‘Yes,’ replies the witness. ‘Why were you there?’ ‘To do electrical work.’ This witness agrees to having bought ice, but not from the shed. From near a Kmart. ‘Are you willing to say from whom you bought the drugs?’ asks the chief prospector. ‘No,’ replies the witness. Audio evidence from one of the previously-announced 40,000 phone interceptions is played to the court. We hear the witness asking for ‘five-hundred’ (a $500 loan). He offers to repay six hundred. ‘We don’t work like that,’ says the man being asked, who clearly is defendant No.1. The first female witness is called. She has ten kids and says her reason for visiting the shed was to buy a caravan for her sixteen-year-old son, for him to use as a bedroom. She said it was perfect for him, even though the person (one of the accused) from whom she was buying the caravan couldn’t find the key, so she hadn’t seen inside prior to buying it. She’s handed a folder containing no fewer than 242, 8 x 10 inch colour photos – the jury all receive a similar folder – and she is asked why she made so many visits to the shed. ‘To make payments on the caravan,’ she replies. ‘A caravan which you bought without looking inside?’ ‘Yes.’

 
Day 87: 23 July 2017
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 07:27

One needs to be careful writing on the funny side to dementia, because it’s a horrible and sad way to see a loved one go. The disease itself is not at all funny. I know; I watched my very capable, independent and former sporting champion mother succumb to it. Yet, rather than mope, I found it helpful to laugh with (not at) Mum. My then wife and I finally had persuaded Mum to agree to spend a fortnight trying out an aged care facility – respite they call it – no small feat in itself! We visited her daily to help make the stint bearable, and to show that we weren’t far away. One morning, my wife walked Mum over to where a group of inmates were playing carpet bowls. They watched on for a while, then Mum leant in towards my wife, and said, ‘Riveting, isn’t it?’ I read where a woman kept referring to her late husband in the present tense. ‘But he’s been dead thirty years,’ said her son. ‘Well, then,’ said the woman, ‘who was that I climbed over this morning to get out of bed?’ An aged care patient had a view from her window of a park, and a statute. ‘I don’t know what he’s doing,’ she said, ‘but he’s been standing there an awful long time’. A dementia patient called out, ‘What kind of hotel is this?’ Being helped to the toilet by a male nurse, the female patient quipped, ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve had a young man take down my pants.’ Man in a suburban nursing home placed a folded hand towel on his head. When asked why he did it, he said it was to keep the kangaroos away. Staff asked him how it was working out, and he said, ‘Well, I haven’t seen any kangaroos yet!’ Mum: ‘I don’t know who you are, but thank you for visiting me.’ The patient thinks his food is poisoned. He tells his nurse, ‘I’ll try it if you eat some first’. The one good thing about dementia is you make new friends every day.

 
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