$1m Christchurch cocaine bust

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 12:47 27/05/2013

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A father faces jail after trying to pick up a suitcase packed with cocaine in Blenheim Rd.

A 36-year-old Wanaka painter with a young family admitted taking the suitase, packed with 2.9 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of up to $1.2 million, to a meeting with a buyer.

He now faces prison after admitting a charge of supplying cocaine.

Cocaine is a class A drug and the maximum penalty for supplying it is life imprisonment.

Cameron John Lockie had been due for a High Court trial in Christchurch this week but the case ended before it began, with a guilty plea instead.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Bell told the court of a Mexican man landing at Auckland International Airport on December 13, 2011, with 2.9 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of up to $1.2 million in his suitcase.

Police then followed the progress of the transaction as it went ahead, with Lockie speaking to a man in London about the arrival of the cocaine, and acting as a go-between.

He arranged for a buyer to purchase the cocaine for US$140,000 per kilogram.

Arrangements ended six days after the arrival of the cocaine, with Lockie arranging to meet the buyer in Blenheim Rd, Christchurch, to take possession of the suitcase of drugs.

Police had the meeting under surveillance and immediately approached. He admitted acting as a go-between.

Lockie had originally been charged with importing the drugs, but he told police he had not been involved in the importation and was unaware of the cocaine until it was already in New Zealand.

Defence counsel Pip Hall QC asked for Justice Alan MacKenzie to seek a report on Lockie's suitability for a home detention sentence, and to grant bail pending the sentencing.

He said Lockie had been on bail for 18 months since his arrest. He had been living and working in Wanaka, where he had a wife and two young children, one of them only a baby. His wife was struggling with depression.

"He has been preparing her for the possibility that he won't be with the family for a considerable period of time," Hall said.

Bell said the Crown's view was that having a home detention report prepared would give unrealistic hope to Lockie and his wife.

Justice MacKenzie agreed. He told Lockie: "I don't think it would be in your interests or those of your wife to hold out a degree of hope that might be involved in ordering home detention appendices."

But he said that he would allow bail pending sentencing which he set for June 26. Granting bail would allow Lockie to "prepare for the inevitable".

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During the remand, Lockie would have to live at his home in Wanaka, report weekly to the police, and surrender his passport.

Suppression orders apply to some aspects of the case.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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