Car dealer claims cash came from cars
A well known Hamilton car dealer at the centre of a large-scale drug bust says $158,000 in cash found stashed in his wardrobe was gathered from car sales.
Stephen John Gray, 56, yesterday took the stand for his defence in week five of the trial relating to a multitude of drugs - methamphetamine, cannabis, LSD and ecstasy - found on his properties in Hamilton and Te Uku after a raid in October 2009.
Six men in total faced charges including Gray's son Michael, who pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to one drugs charge, and Simon Lindsay Kayrouz, Kenton Ian Haine, Kyle Lane Murphy and Brendon Murray Carlisle.
Carlisle, 31, pleaded guilty last Friday to a charge of supplying methamphetamine after overwhelming evidence was put to him by the Crown, while Carlisle also appeared in Hamilton District Court on the same day facing three fresh drug charges.
He was remanded without plea. Police say they found not only the drugs and their precursor substances but large amounts of cash, including more than $150,000 at Stephen Gray's Exelby Rd property.
Crown prosecutor Jacinda Foster said Gray was well known in the Hamilton business community as a car importer, wholesaler and salesman. She described him as ''articulate and clever'' and someone who wants to be in control.
The jury of 10 woman and two men has already heard several weeks of secretly recorded evidence.
Mr Gray was the first of the defence witnesses to take the stand. When questioned yesterday by his counsel , Phil Morgan QC, Gray said he never used methamphetamine but was a user of cannabis. He used the guns found on his property for hunting and had no need to protect himself from anyone.
Of the firearms recovered, Gray said he had several different guns for hunting specific animals or birds and was also a collector of ''ceremonial knives'' and coins and kept them in his wardrobe in his bedroom.
Police also found a knuckleduster and Gray suspected it had ''been there for years''. He said he had no need to protect himself from anyone.
As for the $154,500 cash found in his wardrobe, Gray said: ''Um, it's just my money, it's where I kept it.'' He said it was money made from selling cars that he had imported.
His buyers, usually local car dealers, including regular customer 4 Guys Auto Barn, would buy them off him for cash.
''Cos I got given cash and didn't bank it. Sometimes if the opportunity came along I could buy (a car) for cash and sell it for cash.'' Along with the cash, police allege they found 183gm of methamphetamine at the Exelby Rd property, about 130.2g of cannabis and two tabs of LSD.
Gray said he kept methamphetamine in the freezer, and in a door-stop to his bedroom because it was ''a lot safer there''. When questioned about two black rubbish bags, also in his bedroom, Gray said they were used to collect cuttings after a haircut.
At Gray's property on SH23 - at which Kayrouz was living - police found $3650 cash in Kayrouz's trouser pocket along with another $200 cash.
They also allege they found bags of cannabis stalk and leaf, along with small pre-packaged bags of cannabis. Chemicals associated with the manufacture of P were also found and Kayrouz was described as ''the cook''.
Gray, 56, has already admitted charges of supplying methamphetamine between May 22, 2009, and October 17, 2009, possessing of methamphetamine for supply on October 12, 2009, supplying class A drug ''lysergide'' - commonly known as LSD - selling cannabis, and conspiring to sell cannabis between May 22, 2009, and October 17, 2009.