Drug mule's conviction valid: High Court


Australia's highest court has found no miscarriage of justice in the conviction of a Melbourne man who thought he was importing "magic oil" but inadvertently smuggled heroin into Australia instead.

Steven Lakamasu Siosiua Afford, a self-employed builder, found himself in trouble after a man claiming to be a United Arab Emirates minister emailed him to propose a hotel project worth millions of dollars.

Afford, who craved wealth, was offered access to $US205 million in cash that had been defaced for security reasons and first had to travel to the Philippines to pick up a special oil used to clean it.

The 57-year-old was initially sceptical, believing the money couldn't be cleaned, but after months of negotiations, he agreed to fly to Manila to collect what he called the "magic oil" and deliver it to an associate in Australia.

But upon his return to Melbourne, customs officers discovered 2.4kg of heroin in the lining of a suitcase and a laptop bag, and he was charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs.

A County Court found him guilty and he was sentenced to more than three years in prison but he successfully appealed.

However, the Crown challenged that acquittal and on Wednesday, the High Court granted its appeal, saying a majority of the court had held that the trial judge's directions to the jury were adequate.

Afford had admitted he suspected the suitcase might contain drugs and the High Court found this was enough to establish an intention to import them.

"The Court also held that it was open to the jury to be satisfied of Mr Afford's guilt beyond reasonable doubt," a court summary says.

The court also says Afford had been "obsessed" with the idea of getting rich and would write in his diary most days asking God to grant him his wish to become a billionaire.

"He was also found to have a cheque in his wallet which he had drawn in his own name in the amount of $1 million so that he could visualise his wealth," the High Court judgment says.

The High Court said the Crown's appeal against the sentence should be sent back to the Court of Appeal for determination.