Ninety Mile Beach meth trial: woman wrongly accused of import, court hears

    By Denise Piper, stuff.co.nz

    A woman accused of co-ordinating the largest meth importation in New Zealand was wrongly accused, the High Court in Whangārei has heard.

    Selaima Fakaosilea is accused, along with Stevie Cullen, of importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group.

    The charges relate to the landing of 501kg of methamphetamine at Ninety Mile Beach in the Far North in June 2016, the country’s largest ever drug bust.

    Six people have already pleaded guilty to their part in the case, including Ulakai Fakaosilea, Ms Fakaosilea’s brother.

    But just because her brother knew what was going on, did not mean she knew, Fakaosilea’s counsel Maria Pecotic told the jury.

    Unlike Cullen, Fakaosilea was not in the Far North in the lead-up to the June 2016 landing. The Crown alleges she was an organiser and financier of the operation from Auckland.

    But there was no evidence in the case to show she knew what was going on, Pecotic said.

    Text messages between Fakaosilea and her brother about “clothes” were not proven to be code talk about money, as the Crown alleged, and were literally about clothes, Pecotic said.

    The Crown’s key witness, Witness X, made an incorrect assumption that Fakaosilea went by the codename Blaze, as she was never introduced to him as Blaze, she said.

    Pecotic suggested Blaze was Jermiah Iusitini, also known as Thugga. Iusitini pleaded guilty to importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group.

    Witness X, who was caught by police driving a campervan with 449kg of the methamphetamine, was not the naive 19-year-old the Crown suggested, she said.

    “I would suggest he’s a savvy and street-wise young man.”

    WILLING TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

    In relation to a different operation, Fakaosilea pleaded guilty to charges of supplying methamphetamine and cocaine, both Class A drugs, in September and November 2016.

    Pecotic said those events took place many months after the time period being considered by the jury.

    After the arrest of her brother, Fakaosilea was in turmoil and got into a relationship with a drug dealer.

    “The charges that she has pleaded guilty to show she’s a person who’s prepared to acknowledge and face her responsibility, and accept when she’s done something wrong,” Pecotic said.

    “She does not say that she’s done anything wrong in this action, and she says that she’s been wrongly accused.”

    Justice Christine Gordon QC will sum up the five-week case on Monday, before letting the jury out to decide a verdict.

    Stuff

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