AustraliaAccused in drug ring cried in policeman's home after bust, court hears

23:51  06 june  2019
23:51  06 june  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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One of the men accused of attempting to import $1.5 billion of ice and ecstasy into Australia broke down and cried in the home of an off-duty policeman just hours after the bust made headlines, a trial has heard.

Philip Ian Bishop is on trial in the District Court over his role with a group of men trying to gain access to a shipping container at Chess Moving in Blacktown, where he was a sales manager, in November 2014.

Shortly after 3am on November 29, 2014, police who had been monitoring the shipment since its arrival in Australia from Germany a week earlier arrested six men in Smithfield, not including Mr Bishop.

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Later that day, Mr Bishop attended a 40th birthday party at the Star casino, as did off-duty police officer Grant Prosser, of a man known to them both.

Detective Sergeant Prosser gave evidence on Thursday that he spoke with Mr Bishop, whom he had only met eight or 10 times, and he “was a bit down”.

“He didn’t appear to be in the mood for celebrating … a mate’s birthday,” Detective Sergeant Prosser told the jury.

Under questioning from Crown prosecutor David Staehli, SC, Detective Sergeant Prosser said Mr Bishop “spoke about a drug raid at his work and there were some issues at his work”.

The overnight drug bust had been widely reported in the media that day, the jury heard.

While Mr Bishop didn’t go into details at the party, the next day at around 11am he called Detective Sergeant Prosser on his mobile. The policeman did not recognise the number and Mr Bishop had never previously called him.

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Mr Bishop asked if they could talk in person, Detective Sergeant Prosser said, adding Mr Bishop said he got his number from their mutual friend.

Detective Sergeant Prosser invited him to his home and when Mr Bishop arrived he was “quite upset”.

“His demeanour, how he spoke, you could tell he was quite upset, eventually he started crying,” Detective Sergeant Prosser said.

They went downstairs in the house to talk. Mr Bishop asked the policeman to Google the overnight drug bust and they read a Herald story.

Detective Sergeant Prosser recounted that a few days earlier Mr Bishop told him a man "attended his home address ... at night time and began speaking to him about work”.

Detective Sergeant Prosser made notes of the conversation after Mr Bishop left which he read to the court.

He wrote that Mr Bishop told him the unknown man “needs access to a container”. There were “skins that needed to avoid customs” the man had told Mr Bishop, who replied that he should deal with the matter in office hours.

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The man then asked about his children and that Mr Bishop feared for them, he said.

Detective Sergeant Prosser said Mr Bishop told him he went to work the next day and spoke with a forklift driver who said he had also been threatened, so they both agreed to move the container.

The jury has previously heard a Chess forklift operator, who has received immunity, will give evidence how he and Mr Bishop were to receive $50,000 each for moving the container. Counsel for Mr Bishop disputes this.

Mr Bishop told the policeman that on the night of the raid a truck with “about six males” arrived at the Blacktown site and unloaded the container before heading to Smithfield. Mr Bishop stated he was “not involved in the drugs”.

Mr Bishop did not travel with the men to Smithfield where they were arrested.

Detective Sergeant Prosser said he told Mr Bishop he should talk with a lawyer and immediately informed his superior. Mr Bishop was arrested at a later date.

Mr Bishop is on trial with co-accused Mehmet Ozgen, Jason Drollet and Solomone Vukici.

Justice John Pickering has told the jury to disregard any media reports of the trial they may have read. The trial continues.

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